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Foreign trade growth target 'will be missed'


08:00, October 12, 2012

Despite accelerated activity in September, China's chances of hitting its annual foreign trade growth target this year were described as "hopeless", according to a well-placed source.

Economists and trade watchers agreed that due to a number of factors, the euro-debt crisis being the most significant, the momentum of China's foreign growth will remain weak as the year draws to a close.

An annual foreign trade growth target of 10 percent was set earlier this year but the chances of hitting that figure are "hopeless", said the source on condition of anonymity.

Foreign trade in September grew by only some 6 percent year-on-year, with exports reaching nearly 10 percent and imports more than 2 percent, the source said.

The General Administration of Customs is expected to release the trade figures for September on Saturday.

Exports in August registered an increase of 2.7 percent year-on-year to $177.98 billion, while imports saw a net decrease of 2.6 percent to $151.31 billion.

In the first eight months combined, China's foreign trade grew 6.2 percent from the previous year, amounting to $2.5 trillion.

The moderate growth in September did reflect the run-up to the Christmas and New Year holidays, the source said. But as the debt crisis continues to fester in Europe, China's largest trade partner, and recovery remains slow in the United States, the "fundamentals that affect China's trade situation are unlikely to improve any time soon".

The Ministry of Commerce even forecast last month that the export outlook remained grim and external demand for the rest of the year may be weaker than in the first eight months.

Li Wei, economist at Standard Chartered in Shanghai, said imports and exports would "neither turn much better nor get worse during the rest of the year".

"We cannot bet too much on exports to drive up the economy, despite the recent measures to stabilize trade (from further slowdown)," he said.

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