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China Likely to Be World's 2nd Largest Trader: Expert
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China will this year replace Germany as the world's second largest trader with US$2.1 trillion in foreign trade and may overtake the world's largest trader, the United States, by the end of the decade, says a senior Chinese researcher.


"China maintained a growth rate of more than 20 percent in foreign trade in the first quarter and is likely to maintain the momentum throughout the year," said Li Yushi, vice president of the Research Institute of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce.


Despite a growth rate that declined to 6.9 percent in March, foreign trade in the first three months totaled US$457.7 billion, up 23.3 percent year-on-year.


Exports reached US$252.1 billion, up 27.8 percent, while imports were valued at US$205.7 billion, up 18.2 percent, according to figures released by the Chinese customs.


While the Ministry of Commerce projected foreign trade to grow by about 10 percent a year between 2006 and 2010, Li's institute predicts the growth rate will be between 12 and 15 percent.


"Based on these predictions, we can tell that China will overtake the United States to be the world's largest trader in 2010," Li told a seminar on China's foreign trade prospects in Guangzhou.


China started to lower export tax rebates on numerous items last September to help bring down its trade surplus, said Li. “The government is also developing policies aimed at expanding imports by encouraging domestic companies to import state-of-the-art equipment and technologies."


China's soaring exports in 2006 expanded its trade surplus to a record US$178 billion, up 74 percent from the previous record of US$102 billion set in 2005.


China's trade surplus for the first two months of the year hit US$39.6 billion, more than the entire first quarter of last year.


In March, however, the surplus dropped to US$6.87 billion, dipping below the US$10 billion mark for the first time since March 2006.


The World Trade Organization said in a report last week that China's product exports started to exceed those of the United States in the second half of 2006, but figures for the entire year show China ranked third in exports, after Germany and the United States.


(Xinhua News Agency April 30, 2007)


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