Exports rose 35.3 percent year-on-year in the first nine months to US$416.2 billion, while imports surged 38.2 percent to US$412.3 billion. China's trade surplus for the year so far now stands at just under US$4 billion, according to the General Administration of Customs.
At the end of the first four months of the year, the country was running a trade deficit of US$11.0 billion, but five consecutive monthly surpluses helped to swing foreign trade back to a small surplus for the overall period.
September export growth slowed from August's figure, but still climbed 33.1 percent to US$55.8 billion. Exports jumped 46.5 percent in June, 33.9 percent in July and 37.5 percent in August.
Imports were also strong in September, advancing 22.1 percent to US$50.8 billion.
The country posted its largest monthly trade surplus of 2004 -- US$4.9 billion -- in September.
Analysts forecast a small trade surplus for the full year, with continued strong growth in both exports and imports.
Meanwhile, foreign direct investment surged in September, reflecting foreign investors' confidence in the soft landing of the Chinese economy.
The nation registered actual foreign direct investment (FDI) of US$48.7 billion for the first nine months of 2004, up 21.0 percent year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Contracted direct investment, an indicator of future trends, rose 35.6 percent to US$107.4 billion for the period.
The ministry said China approved 32,279 new foreign-invested ventures in the first nine months of 2004, up 9.3 percent year-on-year.
The ministry did not provide specific data for the month of September. Based on calculations using official information, actual FDI in September was US$5.1 billion, up 44 percent year-on-year.
The growth rate of actual FDI remained in the fast lane, at 46 percent in July and 55 percent in August. The effects of last year's SARS epidemic pushed actual FDI growth into negative territory from July through September 2003.
The World Investment Report 2004, released late last month by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, predicted foreign direct investment in China will reach US$60 billion this year, compared with US$53.5 billion in 2003.
(China Daily October 15, 2004)