"Export growth dropped more than anticipated as global growth softened and the drag from US tariffs intensified".
China's exports to the world fell 4.4% in December from a year earlier, while imports dropped 7.6%, reflecting sluggish demand at home and overseas.
With policy easing unlikely to put a floor beneath domestic economic activity until the second half of this year, import growth is likely to remain subdued, they added.
That compared with about $275.81-billion in 2017.
The world's largest trading nation got off to a strong start in 2018, but pressure on the economy started to build later in the year as a trade dispute with the United States escalated and global demand began to cool.
In 2018, the USA imposed billions of dollars worth of tariffs on Chinese products, prompting retaliation from Beijing and a trade war that analysts fear could escalate further and damage the global economy. That reflects the impact of Beijing's retaliatory tariffs and encouragement to importers to buy more from non-U.S. suppliers.
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However, in a sign that the White House's measures are having an impact, China's exports to the United States sank last month.
The figures come after a USA delegation held three days of talks in Beijing last week in the first face-to-face meeting since Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in December pledged a 90-day truce to resolve the crisis.
"A potential downturn in the sector poses the real risk to China's external outlook even if China and the USA reach a resolution on their trade dispute".
Chinese exports and imports fell last month, indicating U.S. tariffs are beginning to impact the world's number two economy.
China exports to the US declined 3.5 per cent in December while its imports from the USA were down 35.8 per cent for the month. For all of 2018, soybeans, the second largest imports from the USA, fell for the first time since 2011.
Sources told Reuters last week that Beijing is planning to lower its economic growth target to 6-6.5 per cent this year after an expected 6.6 per cent in 2018, the slowest pace in 28 years.