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Trade protectionism is 'shortsighted'

By Ding Qingfen  (China Daily)

13:28, May 15, 2012

As the world economy weakens and Chinese exports lose steam, China is strongly against protectionism, firmly promoting free trade and investment, said China's top trade promoter.

"Trade protectionism is shortsighted and narrow-minded, and it cannot fundamentally address the problems of unemployment and economic growth worldwide," Wan Jifei, president of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, told China Daily. "Free trade is the engine of national economic growth."

Wan's comments came amid signs of a severe challenge facing China's exports in a slowing world economy, beset by the problems of waning growth and the European debt crisis.

Since late last year, China's year-on-year export growth has slowed each month. According to the General Administration of Customs, exports were up just 4.9 percent in April at $163.25 billion. Overseas shipments actually fell month-on-month, by 8.9 percent.

Shipment growth to the United States slowed to 10 percent in April from 14 percent in March, and exports to the European Union fell 2.4 percent, after contracting 3.1 percent in March.

China's exports are also under pressure from rising protectionism in developed and developing nations that have high unemployment, huge debts and low growth.

During the first 11 months of last year, there were 58 trade remedy cases launched worldwide against China.

"Trade protectionism of various types will further intensify, hurting Chinese exports," said Bi Jiyao, deputy director of the Foreign Economic Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission.

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