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Beijing — Chinese trade growth slowed significantly in July compared with the previous month, official data showed on Tuesday, coming in well below expectations after months of steady momentum. Analysts said that while export and import rates were still robust year-on-year, the latest data indicated a downward trend. Exports rose 7.2% year on year to $193.65bn, the customs administration said, undershooting a Bloomberg News forecast of 11%. Imports were up 11% year on year — compared with an expected increase of 18% — to $146.9bn, lifting the trade surplus to $46.74bn. "Despite the uptick at the end of (the second quarter), trade growth now appears to be on a downward trend," said Julian Evans-Pritchard, a China economist at Capital Economics. "In particular, the sharp decline in import growth since the start of the year suggests that domestic demand is softening." The trade figures come despite positive recent economic data, including better than expected growth in gross domestic p...

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