BEIJING, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- China's foreign trade remained stable in the first nine months with improved trade structure, customs data showed on Friday.
Foreign trade rose 9.9 percent year on year to 22.28 trillion yuan (about 3.23 trillion U.S. dollars) during January-September, according to the General Administration of Customs (GAC).
Exports increased 6.5 percent in the period to 11.86 trillion yuan while imports grew 14.1 percent to 10.42 trillion yuan, resulting in a trade surplus of 1.44 trillion yuan, which narrowed by 28.3 percent.
By and large, China's foreign trade growth in 2018 remained steady with progress witnessed, and the country has been advancing the high-quality development of its foreign trade, Li Kuiwen, spokesperson for the GAC,told a press conference.
In the first nine months, exports and imports of products under the general trade category, which are differentiated from processing trade, gained 13.5 percent from a year ago to 13.02 trillion yuan, accounting for 58.4 percent of the total foreign trade, 1.9 percentage points higher than the same period in 2017.
The country's trade with major trading partners saw an increase during the January-September period. Trade with the European Union, its largest trading partner, climbed 7.3 percent, and trade volume with the U.S. and ASEAN countries increased by 6.5 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively.
Export of electric-mechanical products increased by 7.8 percent to 6.91 trillion yuan, taking up 58.3 percent of China's total export value.
China has taken measures to readjust its export structure, with exports of automobiles and machine tools expanding 16.3 percent and 18.7 percent, respectively.
In the January-September period, China imported 336 million tonnes of crude oil, 64.78 million tonnes of natural gas and 24.59 million tonnes of refined oil.
Imports of iron ore and soybean dropped by 1.6 percent and 2 percent to 803 million tonnes and 70.01 million tonnes, respectively, during the same period.
Meanwhile, China's overall import price has grown by 4.2 percent. Major bulk commodities, including crude oil, natural gas and copper, have seen an increase both in volume and price.
Li Kuiwen attributed the increase in imports to the government's favorable measures, including tax cuts, policies to optimize the business environment and tariff reductions.
He projected China's foreign trade to maintain stable growth with improved quality and efficiency, as the country is deepening supply-side structural reform, strengthening its inner dynamism, facilitating trade and diversifying its market.
Foreign trade in the fourth quarter is expected to slow down due to a higher comparison basis, plus instabilities and uncertainties in global environment, he said.
China posted a GDP growth rate of 6.8 percent in the first half of this year, which has remained between 6.7 percent and 6.9 percent for 12 consecutive quarters.