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Analysts: Nation may miss its trade target

By Li Jiabao and Yu Ran  (China Daily)

08:06, September 21, 2012

China is likely to fall short of its goal of increasing its trade by 10 percent this year, as demand remains weak both overseas and at home, officials and experts said.

"China will definitely not achieve its 10 percent goal, given that its foreign trade proceeded slowly in the first half of the year and the prospects are dim for the second half," said Li Xunlei, deputy CEO and chief economist at Haitong Securities Co Ltd in Shanghai. "And we maintain our prediction that the country's foreign trade will increase by about 9 percent year-on-year in 2012."

Xiang Songzuo, chief economist of the Agricultural Bank of China Ltd, said China's foreign trade "will increase by less than 7 percent in 2012.

"Because of the continuing global economic downturn, China will see weaker external demand in the next few months of this year than it had seen in the first eight months," Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang, said at a news conference on Wednesday. "Although faced with a mountain of difficulties, we will still try to achieve our goal of having trade increase by 10 percent, which we had set at the beginning of this year."

China's exports increased by 2.7 percent year-on-year in August, up from 1 percent in the previous month but still below the 3 percent the market had expected.

The decline in external demand is being blamed on the global economic downturn, especially the European Union's debt troubles, as well as rising costs in China.

"The slowing of exports in August mainly results from the sluggish world economy and the EU debt troubles, which have significantly reduced international demand," Shen said.

Xiang said China saw its trade with the EU and Japan decrease in the first eight months of the year and that trade with emerging markets now tends to be more responsible for increases in the country's exports.

China's trade with the EU, its chief trade partner, declined by 1.9 percent year-on-year in the first eight months of 2012 and its trade with Japan decreased by 14 percent in the same period, according to the ministry.

Zhang Rui, the owner of Chuangsi Optical Spectacles in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, said overseas orders usually quickly rise in number in August, as people in Western countries prepare for the Christmas season. This year, though, the boost hasn't been as great as it had been.

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