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China's foreign trade to be 'more balanced'

By Ding Qingfen (China Daily)

09:19, May 16, 2012

China's foreign trade outlook will remain gloomy in the coming months, while global demand slackens, operational costs rise and trade protectionism becomes more common, the Ministry of Commerce said on Tuesday.

But ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said China is "not pessimistic" about the situation, and the nation's foreign trade is on the way to becoming "more balanced".

Since late last year, export growth has been on the decline, and according to the General Administration of Customs, China's exports in April increased 4.9 percent from the previous year and reached $163.25 billion, compared with the 8.9 percent in March.

"China's foreign trade outlook will remain fairly severe in the months ahead," Shen said at the monthly media briefing.

"We are neither optimistic, nor pessimistic about the outlook for Chinese exports and foreign trade this year," Shen said.

Decreasing demand for made-in-China goods from developed markets has hurt Chinese exports.

China's shipments to the United States slowed to 10 percent in April from 14 percent in March, and exports to the European Union continued to register negative growth in April, dropping by 2.4 percent after showing negative growth of 3.1 percent in March.

"If the world economy didn't deteriorate and there is no big reverse in global demand, China's foreign trade this year will see low growth at the beginning, stable mild growth in the middle and high growth at the end, of the year" Shen said.

"We are still confident of achieving the target of 10 percent growth for foreign trade this year."

During the 60th anniversary celebration of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade held on Tuesday, Vice-Premier Wang Qishan said "free and open trade and investment are the significant engine of national economic growth, helping to create more jobs".

"China will actively expand imports, while stabilizing export growth," said Wang.

China is facing the risk of deeper economic slowdown. In April, China's exports and imports were lower than expected, and apart from that, the country's retail spending and investment in April were weaker than expected.

Last month, China's industrial production increased by 9.3 percent year-on-year, the weakest reading in three years.

Economists lowered their forecast for the nation's economic growth for the second quarter. Wang Tao, chief China economist with UBS AG, reduced her second-quarter forecast to 8 percent from 8.4 percent, and her full-year estimate to 8.2 percent from 8.5 percent.

China had a trade surplus of $5.35 billion in April. And the nation had a trade surplus of just $660 million in the first quarter.The nation reported a deficit of $31.5 billion in February, its first in a year and the biggest since at least 1989.

"China's foreign trade is gradually becoming balanced," said Shen.

As the nation pledges to expand imports, "we believe China's foreign trade for the whole year will be fundamentally balanced, with a small surplus, and the trade surplus will further narrow compared with last year".

"It is normal that, in the following months, there will be a trade surplus in some months, and a deficit in some others," Shen said.

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