China witnessed its third monthly trade surplus in a row Wednesday as July's exports surged by nearly 34 percent, according to customs statistics.
But the trade sheet did not go into the black, still recording a deficit of US$4.87 billion.
The customs said the total exports from January to July reached US$309.12 billion, rising 35.5 percent, while the imports increased by 41.3 percent to US$313.99 billion.
The customs did not provide the specific figure for July alone.
But exports in July amounted to US$51.04 billion in comparison, up 33.92 percent year-on-year. And the imports surged by 34.31 to US$49.09 billion.
The growth rates marked a slowdown from the year to June, when exports rose by 46.4 percent and imports by 51 percent.
The monthly trade sheet recorded a small surplus of US$1.95 billion, the third surplus in a row this year.
The surplus compared with US$1.8 billion in June and US$2.1 billion in May.
Analysts had predicted China's trade deficit may ease in the coming months as government efforts to cool an investment boom curb demand for imported machinery and commodities.
Li Yushi, an expert from the Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, contributed the continued exports rise to rising spending in the recovering economies of the United States, Japan and Europe.
And the government's efficient payment of all outstanding tax rebates owed to exporters also contributed to high growth, he added.
But the growth rate for imports is still very high, indicating China's big demand and government control in selected industries did not impact on all industries, he said.
Only industries including steel, real estate, cement and aluminium are suffering and most of the industries operate well and need imports to feed their growth, he said.
The dynamic export sector and growing domestic consumption can cushion the cool-down in selected industries and still buoy up trading partners' exports to China, Li added.
A report by the Ministry of Commerce said exports were expected to rise an annual 15 percent in 2004 to US$505 billion, while imports were likely to surge 20 percent to US$495 billion.
That would produce a trade surplus of US$10 billion for this year compared to a US$25.5 billion surplus in 2003.
But frequent critics of China's low-cost products and trade restrictions against China were both hurting the country and proving to be a big concern for business.
As a result, the government has made great efforts to push the adjustment of export composition by adding high-tech products, which the customs statistics showed has paid off.
Exports of high-tech products increased by 58.3 percent to US$83.8 billion in the first seven months, accounting for 27.1 percent of China's total exports.
High-tech imports surged 40.7 percent to US$86.46 billion.
(China Daily August 12, 2004)