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China imports present huge opportunity for the world

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BEIJING, March 31 (Xinhua) -- Measures to promote balanced trade currently being deliberated by Chinese authorities may create significant opportunities for other countries if implemented.

The State Council, or China's cabinet, said in a statement released Friday after an executive meeting that China is considering a number of policies to boost the country's imports and improve its trade balance.

The country will adopt measures to adjust import tariffs and facilitate fundraising and customs clearance for import enterprises, according to the statement.

China will cut import duties on some energy and raw material products, as well as several high-tech goods, by implementing temporary tariff rates, the statement said.

Deputy Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan said the ministry will soon introduce guidelines for boosting imports and promoting trade balance.

"I'd like to send a clear signal that China's imports will provide huge business opportunities for other countries," Zhong said.

China is now the world's largest exporter and the second-largest importer.

Data from the General Administration of Customs (GAC) showed that it recorded a trade deficit of 31.48 billion U.S. dollars in February, the largest in a decade, as import growth outpaced exports.

The trade deficit in the first two months was 4.25 billion U.S. dollars, according to the GAC.

Li Jian, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said the deficit is temporary and China will still see a trade surplus in the long run.

Boosting imports will be beneficial for promoting domestic consumption, economic growth and the balanced development of trade, Li said.

"As a major player in global trade, China's efforts to balance trade will be conducive to restructuring the world economy, enhancing relations with trade partners, reducing trade frictions and improving the external environment for economic growth," Li said.

Li said China's move to cut import duties with temporary rates was not taken to comply with its commitments as a World Trade Organization (WTO) member.

"China was taking the initiative to lower its tariffs temporarily as a flexible measure," Li said.

According to the cabinet's statement, China will encourage commercial banks to support imports of advanced technology, equipment and key components, as well as energy and raw material products.

Previously, China's imports were dominated by intermediate products, energy resources and minerals, but the country is now working to boost imports of capital goods, key components and consumer goods, said Wang Shouwen, director of the Foreign Trade Department under the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).

"The MOC will cooperate with customs officials and other authorities to boost customs clearance efficiency and trade convenience," Wang said.

The MOC will also optimize management policies and get rid of unreasonable restraints on imports in a bid to reduce import costs, according to Wang.

China will encourage domestic enterprises to establish a mechanism for long-term cooperation with overseas consumer goods providers to reduce intermediate links, Wang said.

China's exports rose 18.4 percent from a year earlier to 114.47 billion U.S. dollars in February, while imports were up 39.6 percent, the largest growth in 13 months, to 145.96 billion U.S. dollars, according to the GAC.

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