Chinese exports fell again in August, official data showed today, but the drop was less than forecast and an improvement from the previous month.

Investors continue to worry about weakness in the world's second-largest economy. 

The figures come as a growth slowdown in the Asian giant and world's biggest trader in goods has sent panic through global markets while Beijing tries to rebalance the economy to a sustainable model where expansion is predominantly driven by domestic consumer demand. 

But the transition is not proving easy, a situation exacerbated by weak demand in some of China's major markets. 

Exports fell 5.5% year-on-year to $196.9 billion in August, Customs said on its website. 

The drop was significantly less than the median forecast of a 6.6% decline in a survey of economists by Bloomberg News, and also an improvement from July's 8.3% fall. 

"Exports to the US and the Association of South-East Asian Nations continued to grow but shipments to the EU and Japan declined," Customs said in a statement.

Imports fell 13.8% year-on-year to $136.6 billion, Customs said, attributing the bigger than expected decline to widespread commodity price falls.

It was the 10th consecutive monthly fall in import values, and worse than the Bloomberg survey's projection of a 7.9% decline.

Global stock markets have been roiled by worries over slowing growth in China, whose own exchanges have plummeted as a debt-fuelled bubble burst. 

China's trade surplus was $60.2 billion last month, Customs said.