China’s foreign trade is set to decline by 7.2 percent this year, according to the official customs information service Imports and exports were hurt by slow recovery in the global economy and weak domestic and foreign demand. 

China’s foreign trade -- the largest in the world by volume -- is set to fall to 24.5 trillion yuan ($3.8 trillion), with imports reaching 10.3 trillion yuan ($1.61 trillion), down 14.4 percent year-on-year, and exports falling 1.1 percent to 14.2 trillion yuan ($2.22 trillion), said the report, cited by China's Global Times.

The prediction factored in the sharp drop in China's trade volume in the first 10 months of 2015. Exports fell 2 percent year-on-year to 11.5 trillion yuan ($1.8 trillion) during this period, and imports declined by 15.2 percent to 8.5 trillion yuan ($1.33 trillion), according to data released by the General Administration of Customs in November. Imports were mainly affected as energy imports fell 53 percent since the beginning of the year.

"China's foreign trade is going through the hardest period since 2009 when imports and exports suffered a sharp drop in the wake of the global financial crisis," Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times Wednesday. “In the current context of a faltering global recovery and rising trade protectionism in many countries, global trade is now going through a period of adjustment.” 

However, on Thursday, the 67-member Asian Development Bank (ADB) issued an optimistic update on its outlook for China this year and in 2016, raising its growth projection to 6.9 percent in 2015, from a previously expected 6.8 percent.

The Manila-based international bank maintained its 2016 forecast for China's growth at 6.7 percent.

"Despite an ongoing housing overhang and excess industrial capacity, China's economy has remained resilient, supported primarily by private consumption and services," ADB said in a statement, adding that fiscal and monetary stimulus measures should continue to provide support.