China's exports fell 14.6 percent on-year in March to 886.83 billion yuan (about $143 billion), the government said Monday, an unexpected drop and a further sign of weakness in the world's second-largest economy.
Imports also fell, declining 12.3 percent to 868.67 billion yuan on-year, the General Administration of Customs said, while the monthly trade surplus plummeted 62.6 percent to 18.16 billion yuan.
The export decline was far off what economists had expected, with a survey by Bloomberg News projecting an increase of 8.2 percent. The poll forecast imports to decrease 11.3 percent.
China's economy slumped to annual growth of 7.4 percent in 2014, the weakest result in 24 years and the slowdown appears to have continued into this year as indicators including industrial production, consumer spending and fixed asset investment have slumped.
China last month cut its trade growth target to about 6.0 percent for this year, from the 7.5 percent goal set for 2014.
Actual trade expanded 3.4 percent last year, the third consecutive time the annual target was missed, owing to weakening domestic and foreign demand.