BEIJING (AP) — The pace of growth of China's exports and imports weakened in July in a discouraging sign for the world's second-largest economy and global demand.

Exports rose 7.2 percent from a year earlier to $193.6 billion, down from June's 11.3 percent growth, according to customs data released Tuesday. Imports rose 11 percent to $146.9 billion, down from the previous month's 17.2 percent.

Forecasters have warned Chinese economic growth will cool this year, dampening demand for foreign goods, as controls imposed on bank lending to slow a rise in debt take hold.

"Trade growth now appears to be on a downward trend," said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report.

The International Monetary Fund expects this year's economic growth to slip to 6.6 percent from last year's 6.7 percent and to below 6.2 percent in 2018.

Export growth was unexpectedly strong in the first half of the year, a positive sign for Chinese leaders who want to avoid job losses in trade-related industries.

China has been credited with helping to support global demand and the downturn in import growth could have repercussions for suppliers for which this country is a major market.

China's global trade surplus declined by 10.7 percent from a year earlier to $46.7 billion.

The surplus with the United States rose 2 percent to $25.2 billion. U.S. President Donald Trump said in April he would temporarily set aside trade and currency disputes with Beijing while the two governments cooperated on North Korea, but American officials more recently have resumed criticizing Chinese trade policy.

The Chinese trade surplus with the 28-nation European Union, the country's biggest trading partner, rose 3.4 percent to $12.2 billion.

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General Administration of Customs of China: www.customs.gov.cn