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China's exports accelerate in March, import growth moderates

  • FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2016 file photo, trucks line up at a container port in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province. China’s export growth accelerated in March in a positive sign for global demand while import growth cooled, according to customs data Thursday, April 13, 2017. (Chinatopix via AP, File)

    FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2016 file photo, trucks line up at a container port in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province. China‚Äôs export growth accelerated in March in a positive sign for global demand while import growth cooled, according to customs data Thursday, April 13, 2017. (Chinatopix via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • Chinese people browse their smartphones outside a fashion retail store in Beijing, Thursday, April 13, 2017. China's export growth accelerated in March in a positive sign for global demand, though import growth cooled. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    Chinese people browse their smartphones outside a fashion retail store in Beijing, Thursday, April 13, 2017. China's export growth accelerated in March in a positive sign for global demand, though import growth cooled. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)  (The Associated Press)

  • An Apple employee, left, teaches customers how to operate iPhone at its retail store in Beijing, Thursday, April 13, 2017. China's export growth accelerated in March in a positive sign for global demand, though import growth cooled. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    An Apple employee, left, teaches customers how to operate iPhone at its retail store in Beijing, Thursday, April 13, 2017. China's export growth accelerated in March in a positive sign for global demand, though import growth cooled. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)  (The Associated Press)

China's export growth accelerated in March while import growth moderated to still-robust double-digit levels in possible positive signs for Chinese economic growth and global demand.

Customs data on Thursday showed exports rose 16.4 percent from a year earlier to $180.6 billion, up from 4 percent growth in the first two months of the year. Imports rose 20.3 percent to $156.6 billion, down from the January-February rate of 26.4 percent.

The unexpectedly strong exports are a positive sign for Chinese leaders who are trying to avert job losses in trade-related industries while they try to nurture consumer-driven economic growth.