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Chinese consumers push US exports higher

By ZHANG YUWEI in New York  (China Daily)

09:16, April 26, 2013

China remained the United States' third-biggest export destination, behind Canada and Mexico, in 2012, having purchased nearly $109 billion worth of US goods, according to a report by the US-China Business Council.

Each of 30 US states exported more than $1 billion in goods to China while 10 others shipped more than $500 million. Leading industries were agriculture, transportation and electronics, the Washington-based organization said in an annual survey released on Thursday.

Although GDP growth in the world's second-largest economy slowed last year, China still saw the value of imports from the US increase by 6.5 percent, or $6.6 billion, the council said.

That helped boost the US economy and contribute to job creation, said John Frisbie, president of the council, which represents more than 200 US companies that do business in China.

"US exports to China remain a bright spot for many US companies, particularly with European demand weakening," Frisbie said.

Timothy Speiss, an executive with New York consulting firm Eisner Amper LLP, said trade between the US and China is likely to increase this year.

"US companies looking for investors and US homeowners looking for buyers benefit from Chinese money coming to the US," he said.

China's first-quarter GDP growth of 7.7 percent was slightly above the government's 7.5 percent target but below the 8 percent prediction of several leading economists, including Justin Lin, a former World Bank chief economist.

But a rapidly expanding middle class has become a major driver of China's buying power. A recent report by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said that trend outpaced overall investment in China in 2011.

The Chinese middle class accounts for nearly one quarter — $6.2 trillion — of the $26 trillion in additional global consumption projected for the 15 years leading up to 2025, according to consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

"As its economy and middle class expand, China will continue to play a significant role as an export market for a wide selection of US goods," Frisbie said. "Some estimates forecast that China may have nearly 600 million middle-class consumers by the end of the decade."

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