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China Could Become Third Largest Export Market of US
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China may become the third largest export market of the United States (US) at the end of this year, surpassing Japan, said US Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Franklin Lavin  Wednesday in Shanghai. 

"My prediction is that by the end of this year China will be the United States' third largest export market, surpassing Japan, if current trends continue," Lavin told reporters during a visit to China's business hub of Shanghai.

According to statistics from the US Department of Commerce exports from the US to China's mainland in 2005 increased by 20.5 percent over 2004. They grew 36.5 percent in the first five months of this year over the same period in 2005, said Lavin. 

Considering the base was very large previously such rapid growth indicated that Sino-US trade was developing in a "positive" fashion, Lavin added. 

America's top export market is Canada, followed by Mexico while China is currently ranked in fourth place. Lavin attributed the increase to closer cooperation between the two countries rather than other factors such as the weakening of the dollar.

Ye Xingguo, vice president of Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade, attributed this change to the Chinese government's adjustment in policies to curb export and expand import quotas.

An example of this is a Chinese trade delegation, led by Vice Premier Wu Yi, who signed a US$16.21 billion purchase agreement in April when visiting the US hitting a record-high with a single deal. In addition, Yi said, China's imports were booming along with growing investment.

China's first-quarter customs statistics show that the country imported machines and electronics valued at US$93.73 billion and hi-tech products of US$53.37 billion -- up 30.8 percent and 33.2 percent respectively. This is 21 and 12.8 percentage points more than the same period of last year. The import value of automobiles and planes increased 1.1 and 2.1 times respectively.

"You wouldn't call (China) a very easy market to do business in but it is easier than before," Yi said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal Asia Tuesday.

Shanghai is the first stop on Lavin's seven-day China visit as guest of the Ministry of Commerce. He will also visit Beijing and hold talks with Chinese Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai with the aim of expanding trade cooperation between the two countries.

(Xinhua News Agency July 27, 2006)

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