China could see a sharp fall in its export growth rate this year while imports could jump, the government said. The Development Research Center, a think tank under the powerful Chinese Cabinet, said Chinese exporters face both internal and external pressures, the China Daily reported Tuesday. The 2011 export growth could drop to 20 percent from 31 percent in 2010, while import growth could jump 25 percent this year. The report noted China had a trade deficit of $1.02 billion in the first quarter of this year, the first such deficit in seven years. The center said quarterly import prices rose 14.2 percent year-on-year while export prices were up 9.5 percent in the same period. The center said China\'s trade surplus this year is expected to be about $140 billion, down from $183 billion last year. \"The imbalance between the import and export prices has reflected the dilemma that Chinese exporters are facing: rocketing cost pressures and little say in pricing,\" economist Zhang Monan at the State Information Center told the China Daily. The Chinese Commerce Ministry has said Chinese exporters\' profit margins have been affected by higher global commodity prices, rising labor costs and a rising yuan. \"The average profits earned by the Chinese export companies have been extremely low, with some companies even bordering on going out of business, which would lead to large job losses,\" another analyst said.