China's foreign trade still faces "challenging prospects" in 2013, despite January's significant pickup in growth, the Ministry of Commerce said.
"The January figure suggests that China's foreign trade maintained the stable growth momentum from the end of last year, and measures to stabilize foreign trade are working well," Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang told a news briefing on Wednesday.
"But trade growth in January is normal and within expectations if the impact of Spring Festival falling in January last year is taken out of the equation."
This January had 22 working days, five more than in 2012 when the seven-day Spring Festival holiday fell in the first month of the year.
"Trade prospects for the whole year remain challenging as demand in overseas markets has seen no significant improvement," Shen added.
Foreign trade in the world's second-largest economy rose 26.7 percent year-on-year in January to 2.17 trillion yuan ($345.59 billion), with exports rising 25 percent and imports growing 28.8 percent, according to the General Administration of Customs.
After adjustments due to seasonal factors, foreign trade in January eased from December's 10.2 percent and increased 8.1 percent year-on-year, with exports rising 12.4 percent and imports increasing 3.4 percent.
"Export growth in February will not be as high as the 29.6 percent year-on-year rise witnessed in the same period last year. The January and February figures should be read together to get a full picture," Shen said.
Li Jian, a researcher from the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a think tank of the Ministry of Commerce, said real trade growth in January was at "a slow pace" and the prospects for the whole year's foreign trade are "still not optimistic".
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