China's foreign trade deficit totaled US$8.43 billion in the first quarter of 2004 because of three successive months of import growth outstripping that of exports by 8.2 percentage points, according to the General Administration of Customs.
Total foreign trade in the first quarter was US$239.9 billion, rising 38.2 percent year-on-year. Broken down, exports were US$115.7 billion, up 34.1 percent year-on-year; and imports were US$124.1 billion, a jump of 42.3 percent.
In March, China's foreign trade totaled a record US$92.2 billion, up 42.8 percent year-on-year, and with a deficit of US$540.0 million.
The customs administration attributed the sharp rise in imports to the country's sustained need for raw materials and energy.
General foreign trade also continued to grow rapidly in the first quarter, totaling US$105.1 billion, up 34.7 percent over the previous year. General trade exports and imports totaled 46.3 billion and US$58.8 billion in the first three months, climbing 27.1 percent and 41.4 percent year-on-year.
Exports of mechanical and electrical products rose 46.8 percent, to US$63.7 billion, accounting for 55 percent of China's foreign trade. That is a slight increase of 4.7 percentage points over 2003.
Processing exports accelerated and imports grew steadily in the first quarter. Imports and exports in the processing trade amounted to US$111.1 billion in the first quarter, up 39.3 percent.
Foreign-funded enterprises in China also logged rapid import-export growth in the first quarter. Bilateral trade between China and its major trading partners developed rapidly, with Japan, the US and EU remaining on top.
(Xinhua News Agency April 12, 2004)