China's foreign trade remained on the fast track in the first month of 2005, following the country's rise to third place in global trade last year.
Total trade rose about 33 percent year-on-year in January to US$95.1 billion, according to the General Administration of Customs.
Exports grew significantly to US$50.8 billion last month, a 42 percent rise over the same period of the previous year; imports hit US$44.3 billion, up 24 percent year-on-year. The country recorded a trade surplus of nearly US$6.5 billion in January.
Although the fast pace of export growth has caused concern, experts say that trade in last month was influenced by such factors as the Lunar New Year, which fell on February 9.
Economists predict the trade gap this year will be narrower than in 2004.
China's steady economic growth will drive up the demand for imports of raw materials, said Zhang Yansheng, a scholar with the National Development and Reform Commission, adding that there is a possibility of trade deficits in some months.
He also estimated that China would achieve a favorable trade balance of US$15 billion in 2005.
In January, general trade exports skyrocketed more than 48 percent to US$22.9 billion while the growth rate of imports slowed to 12.7 percent, bringing corresponding imports to US$19.5 billion.
Foreign-funded enterprises continued to play a significant role in China's foreign trade last month, with exports reaching US$28.3 billion and imports hitting US$25.7 billion.
Trade value of state-owned enterprises grew 16.1 percent to US$25.9 billion, while that of private companies leapt 59.8 percent to US$15.1 billion.
China's economic ties with its major trading partners were strengthened as trade with the European Union, the United States and Japan reached US$15.9 billion (up 36.4 percent), US$14.3 billion (up 30.8 percent) and US$12.9 billion (up 28.4 percent) respectively.
(China Daily February 17, 2005)