BEIJING, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- Growth of China's foreign trade missed the government's 10-percent annual target set for 2012 by rising only 6.2 percent from 2011, customs data showed Thursday.
The country's exports and imports volume totaled 3.87 trillion U.S. dollars last year, and growth slowed sharply from the 22.5-percent rise registered in 2011, Zheng Yuesheng, General Administration of Customs spokesman said.
Exports from the world's second-largest economy rose 7.9 percent in 2012 from the previous year while imports increased 4.3 percent year on year, Zheng said at a press conference.
Foreign trade surplus widened to 231.1 billion U.S. dollars last year, 48.1 percent more than the level recorded in 2011.
Zheng said 2012's trade performance came despite "a deepening debt crisis in the Eurozone, a sharply slowing world economic recovery, continuously sluggish demand on the global market and big downward pressure on the domestic economy."
The country's trade will be "slightly better" in 2013 than 2012, he said.
In December alone, the value of Chinese exports gained 14.1 percent from one year earlier, up from November's unexpectedly-weak 2.9 percent rise. The value of imports rose 6 percent year on year last month, improving from November when there was no growth.
Trade with Europe, China's biggest trade partner, declined 3.7 percent year on year in 2012. Trade with the United States, which overtook Europe to be the biggest buyer of China's exports, expanded 8.5 percent from one year earlier.
Japan dropped to be China's fifth largest trade partner, from fourth. Trade between the two countries last year sank 3.9 percent from 2011 amid tensions after Japan's illegal "purchase" of the Diaoyu Islands.