China’s exports plummeted in December at their fastest pace since 2020, while imports sharply slowed, signalling risks to the recovery of the world’s second-largest economy.

Exports shrank 9.9 percent year-on-year in December, the most since February 2020, customs data showed on Friday. Exports had contracted 8.7 percent in November.

Imports fell 7.5 percent, compared with a 10.6 percent decline in November. China’s economy is still recovering from the fallout of three years of ultra-strict “zero-COVID” restrictions,

which disrupted businesses and kept millions of Chinese consumers at home during long stretches of the pandemic.

China is currently grappling with a massive spike in COVID-19 cases after beginning to unwind most of its restrictions last month.

Exports had been one of the few bright spots for the Chinese economy during the pandemic but deteriorated rapidly during the latter part of 2022

as consumers overseas slashed spending in response to central banks’ aggressive interest rate hikes to tame inflation.