China’s 2016 exports may face sharper decline

China’s exports may continue to decline this year, probably at a sharper pace than the 1.8-percent drop in 2015, an official said Friday, according to Xinhua.

“Downward pressure on China’s exports remains considerable,” said Long Guoqiang, vice director of the Development Research Center of the State Council, at a news conference.

According to Long, weak external demand and protectionism against China weigh on the country’s export growth. Rising labor costs also hurt China’s traditional competitiveness.

“Generally speaking, we are still transitioning from old advantages to new ones,” said Long.

China’s foreign trade plummeted 7 percent in 2015, falling short of the annual target of around 6-percent growth.

The government work report said in March that China will try to curb the declining trend in foreign trade this year, but it did not set any specific targets.