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Warm Winter Contributes to Jan.-Feb. Trade Surplus
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Chinese business analysts and industrial experts on Tuesday cited the warm winter as a factor in China's huge foreign trade surplus in January-February, in response to renewed calls from abroad for a revaluation of the Chinese yuan.

"The warm winter in the northern hemisphere allowed our company to export summer garments to western countries ahead of schedule, which gave us a windfall at the beginning of the year," said Yang Hao, board chairman of Yangfan Garment Co. Ltd. based in Xinji City in north China's Hebei Province.

Yang was in Guangzhou for the Chinese Import and Export Commodities Fair, the country's largest trade exhibition, which runs from April 15 to 30.

Media reports said Europe had its warmest winter in 127 years. Analysts said the warm winter had particularly affected China's exports of textiles and garments.

"The warm winter and the prospect of a reduction in export tax rebates induced Chinese businesses to export summer garments early. Usually the garments are exported in the second quarter," Cao Xinyu, vice chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Textiles, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

"That is the reason for the massive spike in China's exports of textiles and garments in the first two months and also a key reason for the huge surplus in foreign trade," he said.

Another industry affected by the warm winter was air-conditioning equipment.

South China's Guangdong Province, whose exports of air-conditioners account for more than half the nation's total, exported about 3.845 million air-conditioners valued at US$570 million, up 14 and 21 percent, respectively, year-on-year.

Statistics from Chinese Customs show that the trade surplus in the textiles and garments industry reached US$21.6 billion in the first two months of the year, with exports hitting US$24 billion, up 40 percent. February was a bonanza month, with textile and garment exports up more than 72 percent year on year.

Statistics show that China achieved a trade surplus of US$39.6 billion in the January-February period, US$14.3 billion more than last year, with exports standing at 168.7 billion and imports at US$129.1 billion.

The United States and some western nations have complained about the huge surplus and again asked the Chinese government to revalue the Chinese currency, which appreciated by 0.96 percent against the dollar in the first quarter.

The United States has for some time claimed that an undervalued yuan is the main reason for China's trade surplus.

Apart from the warm winter, Chinese experts attribute the surplus to textile exporters' desire to "shift product" before a planned reduction of export tax rebates in April, Yang said.

As it turned out, the new policy was not implemented on April 15 as planned but sources said that government ministries, including the State Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Finance, still have the export tax rebate rate reduction plan on their agendas.

Zhang Qingzeng of the Guangdong Sili International Group Garment Co., said he was unwilling to accept orders at the trade fair in Guangzhou but would talk to counterparts about the possibility of a sudden official announcement of a reduction in export tax rebate rates.

"A two-percent decrease would have a massive impact on Chinese garment exports. If the reduction is confirmed, we will have to raise prices," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency April 17, 2007)

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