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UPDATED: 09:02, October 15, 2004
China's foreign trade bounces back into black
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China's foreign trade was back in the black in the first three quarters of 2004 and the foreign investment inflow also enjoyed steady growth, reported China Daily on Thursday.

Exports rose 35.3 per cent to US$416.24 billion and imports surged 38.2 per cent to US$412.31 billion in the first nine months of this year, resulting in a trade surplus of almost $4 billion.

The first four months of the year saw a trade deficit of US$10.95 billion for China, but five consecutive monthly surpluses helped swing the nation's foreign trade back into a small surplus for the overall period.

The monthly export volume continued its high growth rate, reaching US$55.65 billion in September after climbing 33 per cent. Exports grew 46.5, 32.8 and 37.5 per cent respectively over the past three months.

Imports were also stronger last month, surging 22 per cent to US$50.77 billion.

The country posted its largest monthly trade surplus of 2004 -- US$4.88 billion -- in September.

Analysts believed China will record a small trade surplus this year and both exports and imports will maintain their high growth rate.

Meanwhile, China's direct foreign investment grew 44 per cent in September, indicating foreign investors' strong confidence in the soft-landing of the Chinese economy.

The nation registered actual foreign direct investment (FDI) of US$48.692 billion in the first nine months of 2004, up 21.01 per cent year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Contracted direct investment, an indicator of future trends, increased by 35.62 per cent to US$107.421 billion over this period.

The ministry said China approved 32,279 new foreign-invested ventures in the first nine months of 2004, up 9.28 per cent year-on-year.

But the ministry did not provide specific data for September alone.

Based on calculations using official information, actual FDI in September was US$5.133 billion, up 44 per cent year-on-year.

The growth rate of actual FDI remained in the fast lane, at 46 per cent in July and 55 per cent in August. The same three months last year all saw a negative growth rate because of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak.

The World Investment Report 2004, released late last month by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, predicted foreign direct investment in China will reach US$60 billion this year, compared with US$53.5 billion in 2003. Enditem

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