Chinese foreign trade has increased 750 times since the People's Republic of China was founded 55 years ago, serving as a major engine for the growth of world trade, a Chinese trade official said in Beijing Friday.
Bo Xilai, minister of commerce, told an annual national working conference on commerce that China was expected to be the third largest trade country in the world this year.
Chinese foreign trade in the first 11 months of 2004 exceeded US$1 trillion, including US$167 billion-worth trade with North America, US$190 billion with Europe and over US$600 billion with Asian countries and regions.
According to the World Trade Organization, the United States spent 20 years to increase its foreign trade volume from US$100 billion to US$1 trillion and Germany, 26 years. But China did it in 16 years.
China's soaring economy spurred trade, which benefits its neighbors as well, Bo said.
In the January-November period, Chinese imports from Asia surged by 37 percent to hit US$334.6 billion, more than 20 percent of Asia's total imports volume.
Meanwhile, Chinese exports were optimizing their structure, the minister said.
China's exports of machinery and electronic products and high-tech products both recorded growths of over 40 percent and accounted for 54 percent and 27.7 percent of China's total exports, Bo said.
However, about half of Chinese exports were from the processing industry, which means importing raw material or semi-finished products, assembling them and then exporting the finished products.
Such industries, mostly foreign-founded companies, bring only processing fees to Chinese workers, while most of the profit goes to foreign investors.
The high growth of Chinese foreign trade also raised some experts' worry on the safety of Chinese economy, which seems to rely more on foreign economies.
(China Daily December 25, 2004)