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Surplus trend points to declining export reliance

By Wei Tian (China Daily)

09:11, October 25, 2011

BEIJING - The significance of the current-account surplus to China's GDP growth is waning, suggesting a decline in the country's dependence on exports and a structural change in the world's second-largest economy, the country's top banker said.

The current-account surplus as a percentage of GDP will be about 4 percent this year, Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China, told an economic forum in Beijing on Monday.

The proportion fell from about 10 percent in 2007 to 5.2 percent in 2010 and will show a "significant decline" this year, Zhou said.

Although Chinese statistics show the percentage dipped to 2.8 percent during the first three quarters of this year, Zhou noted that the Christmas season will raise the full-year total as seasonal exports rise.

Zhou also said the overall surplus of China's international payments might still be "relatively large" this year, as foreign direct investment is expected to remain strong because of excessive liquidity and weak growth in developed economies.

Zhou revealed that China might ease restrictions on its citizens' use of foreign exchange as the country progresses toward more balanced international payments.

The idea would "not be for ordinary people to hold foreign exchange in their own hands, but for them to decide on their own to use it for opportunities like investment", Zhou said, without giving a timeline for any policy change.

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