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But trade remained strong in July, with exports growing slightly less than expected at 19.3 per cent from a year ago, said the Customs Administration.

A Bloomberg poll of analysts had forecast the rise at 19.9 per cent on-year, after a surprise spike of 32.2 per cent in June.

Imports, meanwhile, grew 28.1 per cent from the same period last year, official data showed.

With the latest figures, China's overall trade surplus came in at $56.6 billion in July, up from $51.5 billion in June.

Electronic products continued to support export growth in the first seven months of the year even as demand for mask exports eased from last year, official data showed.

ANZ Research Asia senior strategist Irene Cheung noted this week that there has been a "rebound in port activities" following previous disruption.

"On the other hand, imports could have received a boost from the increase in commodity prices," she added.

China has been working to temper rising costs of bulk commodities, which have piled pressure on smaller enterprises.

But ING economists added in a note that stricter social distancing measures with China's Covid-19 resurgence in recent weeks is likely to cause some damage, even if the impact may be somewhat offset by exports of electronic parts and products.

"In addition to the Delta variant, China is dealing with other negative shocks to its near-term growth," Nomura economists said this week.

On top of natural disasters including heavy rainfall and flooding in the central Henan province, which have constrained economic activity, Beijing has also introduced tightening measures in the property sector and high-polluting industries.

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