China's largest distribution center for small commodities Yiwu recorded a 4.07 percent year-on-year drop in export to the United States in the first quarter, the first decline since the marketplace was launched three decades ago.
Yiwu exported $48.47 million worth of goods to the US in the first quarter, after its export to that country surged 35.2 percent last year to $255.52 million, according the local bureau of industry and commerce.
The decline was a result of a number of factors, including the subprime crisis, the tight monetary policy adopted by China, renminbi appreciation, price rises of raw material, the ice and snow crisis early this year and the market's closure for the Spring Festival, according to an observer with the Yiwu Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Bureau.
China's largest hosiery manufacturer Zhejiang Mengna Knitting Co Ltd said that the US subprime crisis was being felt more in the eastern Chinese town.
"US clients began to delay payment in January. They were telling us to postpone transport of goods, saying they still had some in stock, while they used to hurry us to do so," Mengna's export director Zhang Xiaojun said.
Some small-sized businesses were under greater pressure, as their profits that were usually low could evaporate as renminbi appreciated. They faced the loss of clients when raising prices.
The Yiwu market, with more than 50,000 stalls, reported a trade volume of 3.48 billion yuan ($497.14 million) last year.