Beijing: China's export growth witnessed a sharp fall to 3.9 per cent in the month of April, as the draconian COVID-19 curbs that the country imposed in late March in the economic hub of Shanghai, and other cities start to show their effect on the economy.

In April, China's exports stood at USD 274 billion, up by merely 3.9 per cent on a yearly basis, according to the customs data while imports stood at USD 222.5 billion, unchanged from last year's level, Global Times reported.

China's overall trade grew by 2.1 per cent in April, slowing down significantly from 7.5 per cent in March, while the growth in exports saw a significant downturn falling sharply from 14.7 per cent in March to 3.9 per cent in April.

The sluggish figures reflect the extent to which the Chinese economy has lost momentum in the face of prolonged lockdowns in some of its major economic hubs.

Shanghai, the world's largest port, has seen massive disruption since late March as a result of curbs aiming at dealing with the country's worst outbreak of COVID-19 since the pandemic began more than two years ago, Deutsche Welle reported.

The draconian zero-COVID policy implemented by the authorities in Shanghai has resulted in unprecedented disruption in economic activity with factories getting shut, and ports facing delays.

Transport and logistics networks have been severely impacted, with restrictions hitting the delivery of goods around the country and to ports with major global shipping connections.

However, Chinese customs spokesperson Li Kuiwen said Monday that the Chinese economy's "positive fundamentals" were unchanged, the report said.

Economists say that the current slowdown can primarily be attributed to the country's draconian lockdown rules which are among the strictest in the world.

The already precarious condition has been further exacerbated by weakening global demand, particularly in the European Union (EU) and the US, where soaring inflation has hit purchasing power.

"The sharpest falls were in shipments to the EU and US, where high inflation is weighing on real household incomes," Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics told Deutsche Welle. "The declines were also especially pronounced in electronics exports which suggest a further unwinding of pandemic-linked demand for Chinese goods."

The worrisome economic data would put pressure on Beijing to lift the COVID-19 curbs soon, or at least relax them, however, with the case count still rising, a number of other cities, including Beijing itself, are under the threat of facing a lockdown.