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People's Daily Online>>China Business

Weak export demand hits trade surplus in 2011

By Ding Qingfen  (China Daily)

08:16, January 06, 2012

Figure reduced by 15% to $160b as export outlook cited as severe

BEIJING - China's trade surplus narrowed to $160 billion in 2011, from a year earlier, as export demand weakened in the United States and Europe, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.

And the outlook for exports in 2012 is "severe" but foreign trade will be "more balanced" with measures to boost imports, officials from the ministry said during the annual National Commerce Work Conference in Beijing.

The trade surplus last year declined by 15 percent from a year earlier to $160 billion, Chen Deming, minister of commerce, said during his keynote speech at the two-day conference which started on Thursday.

Chen highlighted the major tasks that the ministry will undertake in the coming year, including stabilizing exports, increasing imports and balancing foreign trade.

The ratio of China's surplus to its GDP is expected to fall to "2 percent" in 2011 from 3.1 percent in 2010, he said, while foreign trade in 2011 grew by "20 percent" year-on-year to "$3.6 trillion".

The General Administration of Customs is expected to release export and import figures for December and the whole of 2011 on Jan 10.

As the European debt crisis spreads, China's year-on-year export growth has been declining during the past few months. The European Union is the largest destination for China's exports.

Exports increased by just 13.8 percent in November from a year earlier to $174.46 billion, the lowest since December 2009.

The trade surplus has been shrinking since the global financial crisis erupted in 2008. In 2009 the surplus decreased by 30 percent to $196 billion, and dropped again by 6.4 percent year-on-year to $183 billion in 2010.

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