BEIJING, July 10 China's trade outlook is deteriorating as exporters lose confidence in the face of weak external demand, rising labour costs and a stronger yuan currency, the country's customs department said on Wednesday.
The comments came after China's exports fell 3.1 percent in June from a year earlier, the first decline since January 2012 and well below market expectations, reinforcing signs of a economic slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
Economists had expected exports to grow 4.0 percent and imports to rise 8.0 percent last month.
Customs spokesman Zheng Yuesheng said June's trade figures may more accurately reflect the true picture of China's export performance after the government began a crackdown on an exporters' practice of booking speculative inflows as trade deals, which had inflated export figures earlier this year.
"Exports in the third quarter look grim," said Zheng, noting that 49.2 percent of respondents in the bureau's monthly survey for June saw a drop in the value of new export orders and 43.8 percent were not optimistic about their exports in the next two to three months.
The survey also found that 69.1 percent of the exporters complained about rising costs overall, 70.5 percent noted rising labour costs and 59.8 percent complained about a rising yuan hurting their businesses.