BEIJING - China saw a trade deficit of 1.02 billion US dollars from January to March this year, the first quarterly trade deficit in six years, according to figures released Sunday by the General Administration of Customs (GAC).
In comparison, there was a trade surplus of 13.91 billion US dollars in the first quarter of last year.
China's exports increased 26.5 percent year on year to 399.64 billion US dollars in the first three months this year, while imports soared 32.6 percent to 400.66 billion dollars from a year earlier, figures from the GAC showed.
From January to March, the total value of imports and exports increased 29.5 percent year on year to 800.3 billion dollars, said the customs administration, adding that China reported a small trade surplus of 140 million dollars in March, on the basis of a deficit of 7.3 billion dollars in February.
Trade with the European Union, China's largest trade partner, jumped 22 percent year on year to 123.7 billion dollars in the January-March period, the GAC said.
Trade with the United States climbed 25 percent to 97.65 billion dollars during the period while that with Japan rose 27.1 percent to 80.78 billion dollars.
Trade with ASEAN countries surged 26.1 percent year on year to 79.34 billion dollars in the first quarter this year, it said.
The GAC said China imported more mechanical and electrical equipment, including cars, iron ores and soybeans than it did in the same period a year ago and that the prices of those commodities had all shot up.
China's Spring Festival, or Lunar New Year -- the most important traditional Chinese holiday -- which last from February 2 to 8 this year, also contributed to the trade deficit, analysts said.