Beamish said the steeper March drop in imports year-on-year is not so surprising in the context of the trends painted by the leading indicators.
"There are uncertainties coming from the weaker momentum of the global economy and trade growth and the complex global environment", said Li Kuiwen, a customs spokesman.
China's imports however, fell by 7.6% in March, extending from the 5.2% decline in February.More news: Feds bust father-son team who sold diseased body parts
It raises questions about the current strength of domestic demand, especially as rising oil prices should have pushed up imports, said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a note. The dispute has rattled financial markets and prompted the International Monetary Fund and other forecasters to lower their outlook for global economic growth.
Washington and Beijing have largely agreed on a mechanism to police any trade agreement they reach, including establishing new "enforcement offices," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday.
China has been broadly affected by the weakened trade earlier due to the United States (US)-Sino trade conflict but trade progress between the two parties in recent weeks have cooled the bearishness on the ground.
China's trade surplus with the United States, a major source of frustration for Washington, rose almost 40 per cent in March from February to $20.5 billion and hit $62.66 billion in the first quarter.More news: French rugby clubs vote against naming foreign coach for national team
Earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund improved the outlook for Chinese growth this year to 6.3%, as the conflict between the USA and China on their trade deal did not worsen as expected from its earlier forecast.
Chinese exporters will also likely have to scramble to win back lost market share.
In response, Beijing has announced more spending on roads, railways and ports, along with trillions of yuan of tax cuts to ease pressure on corporate balance sheets and avert a sharper economic slowdown. Chinese auto sales dropped for the first time in nearly 30 years last year, in a negative development for European vehicle manufacturers that have made China an increasingly important export market. Last year, the country expanded by 6.6%, its slowest growth since 1990.More news: Winx bows out in style with 33rd victory