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Iron Ore Imports Rise 23% in First Quarter
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China imported 100.19 million tons of iron ore in the first three months of this year, an increase of 23.4 percent year-on-year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Analysts said if the growth momentum continued between April and December, the total imports for 2007 would be sure to beat the earlier forecast of 355 million tons by the China Iron and Steel Association.

As the world's biggest producer and consumer of steel, China imported a record 325 million tons of iron ore and produced 418.78 million tons of crude steel last year.

The administration also said the country exported 14.13 million tons of steel products in the first quarter, up 118.4 percent from the same period a year earlier.

It said the nation exported 5.38 million tons of steel in March, slightly lower than the record high of 5.55 million tons set last December.

Xu Xiangchun, an analyst with the Beijing-based Lange Steel Research Center, said cuts to export tax rebates expected in April boosted steel exports in the first quarter.

China said Tuesday it will remove exports tax rebates on 83 steel products while lowering the rate on 76 others to five percent as of April 15 as it is striving to lower its trade surplus.

The surplus soared to US$46.44 billion in the first quarter of this year, nearly double the US$23.3 billion surplus in the same period last year.

Last September China lowered the rebate rate for 142 steel products from 11 percent to eight percent.

(Xinhua News Agency April 12, 2007)

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