China has posted its first quarterly trade deficit in seven years on the back of surging commodity prices and slower exports over the Lunar New Year period, the Wall Street Journal reported. The gap between net exports and imports came to US$1.02 billion between January and March, largely due to a deficit of US$7.3 billion in February. In March, the country swung back to a small trade surplus of US$139 million. For the full year, economists expect exports to significantly outpace imports, as companies work through the raw material stockpiles they typically accumulate earlier in the year. However, China’s annual surplus should narrow compared with the previous year as gains in the value of the renminbi and rising costs for labor and imported commodities increase the relative cost of exports in 2011. Wang Tao, China economist at UBS (UBS.NYSE, UBSN.SIX) expects a US$150 billion surplus, down nearly one fifth on the 2010 figure. China’s statistics bureau will announce figures for quarterly GDP and inflation on Friday, Xinhua reported.