(CNN) -- China's exports increased last month, but still were down 17 percent year-on-year, according to figures released by the government Friday.
Exports totaled $90.3 billion in March -- a $25 billion increase from the previous month -- according to China's General Administration of Customs. Imports to China dropped 25 percent year-on-year to $72 billion.
While still less than last year, government officials note total trade has been on the rise in recent months and "shows obvious signs of recovery," according to a statement on a government Web site.
Total trade was $162 billion in March, compared to about $142 billion in January.
China's trade driven economy has been decelerating in recent years, with an annual growth rate of 17.8 percent last year compared to 35.7 percent in 2004, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.