China's economic growth is expected to cool to about 6.3 percent in the first quarter of the year and might not bottom out until later in the year, a Reuters poll showed.
A customs spokesman said he expects mild growth in both exports and imports this quarter.
China's trade surplus with the United States was US$20.5 billion in March, according to Chinese customs data. The country's trade surplus - the gap between exports and imports - jumped to $32.6bn (£24.9bn), from $4.1bn in February. This was above forecasts of US$7.05 billion.
However, a top White House official said on Monday the US side is "not satisfied yet" about all the issues standing in the way of a deal to end the US-China trade war.
However, analysts caution it is hard to compare trends in China's data at the start of the year due to the Chinese New Year holiday, which came in early February this year and can affect business activity.
Recent manufacturing data showed export orders shrank for the 10th straight month in March amid slowing global growth.
In response, Beijing has announced more spending on roads, railways and ports, along with trillions of yuan of tax cuts to ease pressure on corporate balance sheets and avert a sharper economic slowdown.
Beamish said the steeper March drop in imports year-on-year is not so surprising in the context of the trends painted by the leading indicators.
This was due to "overall concern over the economy and negative sentiment that is pervasive among households and companies", said Allan von Mehren, China economist at Danske Bank at the time.
China's exports rebounded from a slump in March and sales to the United States rose despite President Donald Trump's tariff hikes. This was one of the major barriers to a deal between the world's two biggest economies.
However, imports fell more than expected, suggesting its domestic demand remains weak.
Exports rose 14.2% in U.S. dollar terms in March from the previous year following a 20.8% drop in February, but imports declined 7.6% compared to a 5.2% fall the month before.
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