China’s bilateral trade with the US has declined slightly in the last eight months, while expanding with the EU and Japan, state-run media reported Monday.

The country’s bilateral trade declined by 0.4% to 2.42 trillion yuan ($354 billion), a 12.1% share of China’s foreign trade, the Global Times daily reported.

Accounting for 12.1% of China’s total foreign trade, the US was its third-largest trade partner during this period.

Beijing reportedly saw exports growing by 11.6% year-on-year, with the decline in exports to the US coming amid increased tensions with Washington over China’s treatment of its Muslim Uighur minority, as well as a new security law imposed on Hong Kong.

According to the General Administration of Customs (GAC), member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) remained the China’s biggest trading partner, with a trade value of 2.93 trillion yuan ($428.8 billion) in the first eight months, up 7% year-on-year and accounting for 14.6% of China’s total foreign trade.

Meanwhile, China’s trade with the EU racked up 2.81 trillion yuan ($411.3 billion) — up 1.4% and accounting for 14% of China’s total foreign trade — the figures showed.

The country’s foreign trade reached 2.88 trillion yuan ($421.69 billion) in August, rising by 6% year-on-year.

“Europe and the US also reopened various sectors of their economy earlier than expected, partially contributing to the rise in Chinese exports,” said Bai Ming, deputy director of the international market research institute at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

“However, certain countries’ protectionist restrictions on exports to China, along with a number of countries’ limited supply due to the continued suspension of manufacturing lead to a drop in Chinese imports,” he added.

China, so far, reported 85,134 confirmed cases with 4,634 deaths and 80,320 patients have recovered, according to the National Health Commission of China.

Since the virus emerged last December in the Chinese city of Wuhan, it has spread to at least 188 countries and regions, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

There are more than 27.1 million confirmed infections by the virus worldwide, including over 883,000 deaths and recoveries exceeding 18.1 million.

*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid

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