BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhua) -- China reported a large trade deficit in February mainly due to lunar new year distortions, marking the first deficit since April 2013, new customs data showed on Saturday.
Last month, the trade deficit stood at 22.98 billion U.S. dollars, compared with a surplus of 14.8 billion U.S. dollars last February and 31.86 billion U.S. dollars this January, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said in a statement.
Total trade dropped by 4.8 percent year on year to 251.18 billion U.S. dollars, with exports dropping 18.1 percent and imports up 10.1 percent, according to the statement.
In January, foreign trade climbed 10.3 percent, with exports rising 10.6 percent and imports up by 10 percent, previous data showed.
"The Spring Festival factor contributed to large fluctuations in trade volume and the deficit last month," the GAC said.
The Spring Festival, or China's lunar new year, is the country's most important traditional festival for family reunions. It fell on Jan. 31 this year, and a holiday ran from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6.
Chinese companies followed their tradition of rushing to export before the holiday and prioritizing imports after it, the GAC added.
In the first two months of 2014, total trade volume expanded 3.8 percent year on year to 633.57 billion U.S. dollars. Exports fell 1.6 percent, while imports rose 10 percent. Trade surplus narrowed 79.1 percent to 8.89 billion U.S. dollars.