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Guangzhou may lower export target

By Liang Fei (Global Times)

08:12, November 02, 2012

The annual export growth target of Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province, should be reconsidered as it will be hard for the city to achieve the current 10 percent target amid the global economic downturn, according to a post on the city trade bureau's website Thursday, citing an official at the trade body.

"The annual target should be cut to 5 to 6 percent this year," said Xiao Zhenyu, director of the Bureau of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation of Guangzhou.

Xiao said it would be hard for most cities in the province to realize the 10 percent target.

Foreign trade used to be one of the major driving forces for the coastal province's economy.

But data from the province's Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation show that total foreign trade volume in Guangdong only climbed by 6.1 percent to $715.62 billion in the first three quarters this year, compared with growth of 20.5 percent in the same period last year.

"The golden era for foreign trade is long gone, and it is not very likely the province will see double-digit growth in foreign trade in the short term," Li Youhuan, director of the Comprehensive Development Research Center at the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Thursday.

Li said that the province's foreign trade sector, especially export-oriented companies, has encountered a variety of problems. "For instance, labor costs in Guangdong have grown at least 10 percent each year during the past few years, and recently the value of the yuan has kept rising."

The ongoing autumn version of the Canton Fair in the province, which is seen as a barometer for China's foreign trade, also reported disappointing data. By October 31, the number of foreign purchasers registered at the fair was 149,289, 10.4 percent less than last year.

"The world's developed economies will still report sluggish growth during the next five to 10 years, so it is not possible for China to see growth of 20 to 30 percent in the trade sector in the future," Tian Yun, an economist with the China Society of Macroeconomics under the National Development and Reform Commission, told the Global Times.

The Ministry of Commerce said on October 19 that in the first three quarters this year, China's total trade volume saw modest growth of 6.2 percent to $2.84 trillion, with exports increasing by 7.4 percent during the same period.

In eastern China, total export volume only saw average growth of 4.3 percent in the period, said the ministry. However, in inland regions such as Henan and Sichuan provinces, export growth reached as much as 40 percent.

"Export-oriented manufacturing will gradually be moved to inland regions of China, where labor costs and resource prices are comparatively low and local governments have also launched favorable policies," Tian noted.

Tian noted that as China is not likely to see robust growth in foreign trade in the future, the central government should shift its focus to domestic consumption as the new driving force for the economy.

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