| GEO Business|
| China's exports fall for first time in seven years|
| Updated at: 2042 PST, Wednesday, December 10, 2008|
BEIJING: China's exports fell in November for the first time in seven years as global demand weakened, data showed Wednesday, adding to pressure on Beijing to reverse a worsening economic slump.
November's trade surplus widened to a monthly record of $40.1 billion as exports fell by 2.2 percent from the year-earlier period and imports fell even faster, dropping by 17.9 percent, the customs agency reported.
The drop in trade was even sharper than most analysts expected and adds to pressure on Beijing, which is trying to insulate China from the global slowdown with a multibillion-dollar stimulus package to boost domestic spending.
Chinese exporters have been hammered by a drop in foreign demand, leading to factory closures and layoffs. Communist leaders worry that more job losses might fuel unrest and are pressing companies to minimize staff cuts.
The sharp drop in imports could be especially worrisome for Chinese planners, reflecting a slowdown in domestic demand just as they are trying to encourage the country's own consumers to spend more.
November's exports fell to $114.9 billion, while imports dropped to $91.3 billion, the customs agency reported.
It was the first time China's exports have fallen since June 2001, according to the official news agency.