Chinese exports posted an unexpected rise in April despite the COVID-19 virus, but imports fell.

The country’s General Administration of Customs reported a 3.5% rise in exports year-on-year in April against March’s -6.6% drop. Analyst forecasts prepared by Investing.com had predicted a -15.7% decline.

Despite China’s slow start to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic as early as March, lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus in other countries impacted export orders and supply chains.

Meanwhile, imports fell 14.2% in the same period, more than the forecasted –11.2% drop. The GAC recorded a -1% drop in March.

“As the volume of commodity imports actually rose, the decline in imports was driven by falling commodity prices,” Raymond Yeung, chief China economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, told Bloomberg.

“April’s exports also reflected the pent-up demand of previous export orders for electronic products. Global work-from-home is also expected to be contributory to certain consumer electronic products. Nonetheless, this figure does not bode well for the US-China trade relationship. Trump’s administration will certainly press for more going forward.”

China’s trade balance for April stood at $45.34 billion, against March’s $19.93 billion and the forecasted $6.35 billion.

Meanwhile, although country’s manufacturing sector is making small strides on the road back to economic growth, the latest data shows that the Chinese economy is still contracting. April's Caixin China General Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) reading, released on Thursday, was 44.4, up from 43 in March. A figure of 50 or higher indicates growth.