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Export, import goal 'can be met'

By Li Jiabao and Yu Ran (China Daily)

08:24, June 27, 2012

Foreign trade has picked up in the last couple of months and is likely to achieve its 10 percent annual growth target for 2012, the Ministry of Commerce said on Tuesday.

Feedback from companies and government agencies suggested that June trade has built on May's success, Shen Danyang, the spokesman for the ministry, said in a news conference. The General Administration of Customs has yet to report June import and export figures.

A turning point came in May when exports, at $181.1 billion, grew 15.3 percent year-on-year against 4.9 percent in April.

Imports also showed an upturn. They grew 12.7 percent at the same time, to $162.4 billion, against a meager 0.3 percent in April.

The May rebound was attributed to government measures to help stabilize trade.

"China can achieve 10 percent annual growth for imports and exports so long as the global economy does not deteriorate further," Shen said.

Experts predict that foreign trade, closely related to GDP growth, will see a steady expansion in the second half of the year.

Lian Ping, chief economist with the Bank of Communications, said that foreign trade will continue to grow based on the May turnaround.

Eurozone stability is the key, Lian said.

Exports to the European Union rose by 3.4 percent year-on-year in May. This was in marked contrast to the first five months of the year when exports to China's biggest market declined by 0.8 percent from the previous year, Shen said.

Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said earlier this month that China might be able to maintain 10 percent trade growth this year "if we're lucky".

"Exports will see steady growth from June to October because about 70 percent are daily consumer goods which will be in demand as we enter the winter season in Europe," Zhou Shijian, a senior trade expert from Tsinghua University, said.

Increasing tax rebates will also help boost exports, Qian Shaotian, an executive at Shanghai Yuanzong Hardware, said.

Some exports from Shenzhen will be tariff free from July 1. This will benefit more than 1,700 exporters in Guangdong province, the Shenzhen Economic Daily reported on Tuesday citing a source from the city's administration of taxation.

The currency is another factor, Zhou said.

"In addition to tax rebates, the yuan should maintain a two-way fluctuation, or moderate depreciation, to ease the burden on exporters. It cannot appreciate any more."

Lian, from the Bank of Communications, said that "the steady growth of foreign trade in the next half will add momentum to economic growth".

China's GDP grew 8.1 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, the slowest pace in almost three years.

The Leading Economic Index increased 1.1 percent from April to 235.1, indicating that the nation's slowdown may be stabilizing, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing the New York-based research group, Conference Board.

Zhou said that economic growth will rebound later in the year while Li Daokui, a former central bank adviser, said at a forum in Beijing on Monday that full-year expansion may range from 8 percent to 8.2 percent.

Regarding potential trade disputes with Europe, Shen said that "the EU should think carefully before taking measures against Chinese solar exports".

"Otherwise it may hurt itself because restrictions on Chinese solar products will not benefit the development of Europe's solar industries, nor will it advance Europe's low-carbon strategy."

The German solar giant SolarWorld AG lodged a complaint against China for selling solar products lower than cost.

The EU also accused two telecom giants, Huawei and ZTE, of receiving government subsidies.

Shen rejected the accusations and said they were groundless as the companies evolved through their own research and development in a competitive market.

"We have many European telecom companies doing business in China and we hope that mutual benefits will not be weakened or damaged."

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