China's exports slipped 0.3% on year to $185.6B in September vs +7.2% in August and consensus for growth of 6%.
Imports grew 7.4% to $170.4B vs +7% and +7%.
The trade surplus declined 45% to $15.2B.
Although the drop in exports raises concerns about global demand and the staying power of China's recent economic recovery, analysts point out that the over-invoicing of exports may have inflated the numbers in September 2012.
Meanwhile, customs spokesman Zheng Yuesheng played down the fall as seasonal and said that it anyway shows that as per government policy, "China's economic development has transformed from being driven by external demand to domestic demand."