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Nation set to miss 10% trade target

By Wei Tian (China Daily)

09:12, November 29, 2012

China may miss the 10 percent growth target for its trade sector this year, but will see moderate recovery next year amid still sluggish external demand, China's top trade official said on Wednesday.

"Trade growth speed may be slower than the goal we set at the beginning of the year, but China's share of global trade will remain at a steady level, if not further expanded," said Commerce Minister Chen Deming.

Although Chen said a more precise estimate won't be ready until the entire year's trade data is released, he suggested the situation will improve in 2013, in which growth in the second half will also be faster than in the first.

Customs data showed that the nation's total trade volume grew 6.3 percent year-on-year in the first 10 months of 2012, in which exports increased by 7.8 percent, and imports grew by 4.6 percent, resulting in a trade surplus of $180.23 billion.

Despite the pessimistic figure, Chen said the structure of foreign trade has been optimized, with mechanical and electrical products, exports from central and western provinces, and exports to emerging markets all playing a bigger role.

"But there are still a lot of uncertainties," he added.

According to Chen, global trade volume is expected to grow by just 2.5 percent this year, 2.5 percentage points lower than the previous year and much lower than the average of 6 percent over the past 15 years.

Qiao Hong, chief economist for China at Morgan Stanley, said there should not be much optimism about external demand next year, as the ongoing eurozone crisis continues to have a negative impact.

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