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China sets foreign trade goal over next decade

Source:   Time:

GUANGZHOU - A research report of China's foreign trade sector Sunday predicted the world's largest exporter would more than double its foreign trade volume by 2020.

It also called on China to improve the quality of foreign trade sector and to lower import tariffs to promote the nation's trade balance.

The report, launched by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) Sunday at the ongoing 107th China Import and Export Fair, the country's largest trade fair held in the southern city of Guangzhou, predicted the China's foreign trade volume would hit $5.3 trillion by 2020.

Merchandise exports will top other countries and be $2.4 trillion in 2020, 10.1 percent of the world total, while imports will reach $1.9 trillion and rank second largest, accounting for 8.2 percent of the world total, according to the report, jointly compiled by researchers with think-tanks under the MOC, the Ministry of Finance, and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The report was seen by analysts and officials as a "road map" which lays out a theoretical basis for the reforms in China's trade policies and mechanisms over the next decade.

The transformation of the foreign trade growth pattern has become an urgent requirement for China in the post-crisis era, said Vice Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan.

Weighed on by the global downturn, China's foreign trade contracted to a three-decade low in 2009, with total volume down 13.9 percent year on year to $2.2 trillion.

Huo Jianguo, director of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation (CAITEC) under the MOC, said the financial crisis has revealed a series of substantial problems hidden behind rosy figures, as the nation's foreign trade has been expanded in an ineffective and imbalanced way, or at the cost of environment pollution.

Analysts said the downturn had prompted China to adjust its exports structure, and shift focus on high-end manufacturing, energy-saving and environment-friendly industries and developing modern service industries.

Li Gang, a research fellow with the CAITEC and leading writer of the report, said the global downturn has phased out a number of backward and less competitive enterprises while offering great opportunities for innovative enterprises to improve growth structure and strengthen their anti-risk capabilities.

Although China reported a a deficit of $7.24 billion in March, the first time over the past six years, analysts suggested decision makers to further expand imports by lowering tariffs, as a way to ease the nation's trade imbalance.

Zhang Peng, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China should increase imports of high-tech equipments, energy and resource products, and some agriculture and consumption goods in an attempt to address the trade imbalance.

The nation's trade surplus has reached $1.3 trillion over the last three decades, with foreign exchange reserves hitting $2.45 trillion by the end of March, according to Zhang.

Propping up world's economy recovery, China's foreign trade began to grow again in the first quarter, jumping 44.1 percent to $617.85 billion, according to customs data.

China would consolidate its position as a big trade power and make efforts to develop into a strong trader, and it would play a more active role in international trade arena, according to Zhong Shan.

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