The value of Chinese imports and exports fell heavily in the year to December, adding to it a lengthening list of evidence that is not in the world's second-largest economy at the end of 2018.

According to China's General Administration of Customs, the value of exports tumbled 7.6% from a year earlier in US dollar terms, coming in at 5%.

Exports so undershot expectations by some margin, sliding by 4.4% in US dollar terms from December 2017, missing forecasts for an increase of 3%.

The year-on-year drop in imports and exports was the largest since the second half of 2016, and the majority of the trade with the US and China earlier in the year was largely reversed.

The monthly trade surplus swelled to $ 57.06 billion, the largest since December 2015. Markets were looking for the surplus to increase to $ 51.5 billion after lifting to $ 44.71 billion in November.

Of note, China's monthly trade surplus with the United States fell to $ 29.87 billion, below the $ 35.54 billion level of November. However, over the entirety of the year, it swelled by 17.2% to $ 323.32 billion, the highest level on record.

Imports from the United States grew by 0.7% over the year, outpaced by a 11.3% increase in the value of exports going in the other direction.

Combined, and despite the escalating trade was between the two economic superpowers, total bilateral trade rose by 5.7% compared to the levels seen in 2017.

Compared to 2017, China's trade surplus, including the United States, fell to $ 351.76 billion, the smallest since 2013. Over that period, the value of imports rose 15.8% in US dollar-denominated terms, faster than the 9.9% lift in exports.

The year-on-year falls in the year under review, especially in imports and exports, with stocks, most commodities and China-proxy plays.

"Sorry, no front-loading one's got on!" Said Stephen Innes, Head of Asia-Pacific Trading at OANDA.