Steps on to trim service trade deficit

08:45, April 30, 2010      

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China will make every effort to achieve a 10 percent growth in service trade this year, on the back of steps to narrow the trade deficit in the sector, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.

The ministry said the nation's service trade fell by 6 percent to $286.8 billion in 2009, the first yearly drop since 2001.

Service exports declined by 12.2 percent last year to $128.6 billion, while imports grew by 0.1 percent to $158.2 billion.

The trade deficit for services grew by 1.6 percent last year to $29.6 billion, attributed largely to the deficit in sectors like transportation, patent fees, insurance services and tourism, at $23 billion, $10.6 billion, $9.7 billion and $4 billion respectively.

Compared with commodity trade, the nation's service trade is still weak and its competitiveness is not strong worldwide, the ministry said.

Last year, China, for the first time since 2003, surpassed Germany as the largest commodity exporter.

A recent report released by the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce predicted that China's service trade volume will reach $1 trillion in 2020, while commodity trade will grow to $4.3 trillion by then.

With uncertainties forecast for commodity trade this year, service trade may play an increasingly important role in sustaining local economic growth, said analysts.

Commerce Minister Chen Deming said recently that service trade is the new engine to sustain global economic recovery, as overall prospects are still complicated and unclear.

China will improve service trade-related policies, assist exports of key service sectors, expand to other service sectors and promote imports of services, said the ministry.

"We will try to meet the target of 10 percent growth for service-related imports and exports this year, and the service trade deficit will decrease from a year earlier," it said.

A ministry report released on Wednesday said China's foreign trade prospects are not so positive due to uncertainties in the world economic recovery, growing trade protectionist measures against China and rising labor and raw material costs.

Unreasonable restrictions imposed by developed nations on exports of specific products to China and the rising trend for commodity prices are also making it hard for a strong growth in China's imports, said the ministry.

Source: China Daily


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