China's exports fell by 0.3 percent in September from the same month last year, while imports grew 7.4 percent, the General Administration of Customs said Saturday.

The surprising drop in foreign sales contrasts dramatically with the figures in August, when China's exports rose 7.2 percent year-on-year to $190.7 billion.

Exports also declined in June, falling 3.1 percent compared to that same month of 2012.

Imports grew 7.4 percent in September, compared with 7 percent year-on-year growth in August, according to official figures.

Those results lowered China's trade surplus to $15.2 billion in September, down 44.7 percent from the same month of last year.

In August, China's trade surplus came in at $28.5 billion.

China's government has forecast export growth of 8 percent for this year, although Beijing has recognized that that will be difficult to achieve due to discouraging external demand prospects.

China's total trade volume grew 6.2 percent in 2012 - well below Beijing's target for that year - due primarily to economic woes in the Asian giant's main trading partner, the European Union. EFE