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Trade Surplus Hits US$100 Million in First 4 Months
China turned around its trade deficit for the first quarter and achieved a surprising US$100 million surplus in the first four months of this year.

China exported US$122.03 billion and imported US$121.93 billion in January-April, up 33.5 percent and 46.8 percent respectively year-on-year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Monthly imports and exports reached record highs in April at US$34.60 billion and US$35.62 billion, it said over the weekend.

But imports and exports for April grew at a much slower rate -- down 10.7 and 1.3 percentage points respectively -- than in March, it said.

A trade deficit of between US$2 billion-3 billion is expected this year due to SARS.

The change in foreign trade fortunes, however, is not expected to do substantial harm to the Chinese economy because the country has a huge foreign-exchange reserve, said Gao Huiqing, a senior researcher with the State Information Centre.

Yang Danhui, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily: "Such times have passed and a sporadic small trade deficit for one or two years is nothing to worry about.''

She said China's trade deficit this year could be even larger if the country imports a lot of drugs and medical equipment to fight SARS. But the foreign-trade situation should stay healthy if China continues to improve the commodity structure and competitiveness of its exports.

This year's deficit is predicted to be the largest annual trade deficit for China since 1993, when it was US$12.2 billion.

If SARS is eliminated within another three months, China's trade deficit would peak at US$5 billion for the May-July period, said Gao.

If SARS is brought under control in July, China's exports are expected to grow extraordinarily quickly in the latter half of the year in compensation, bolstered by strong international demand. However, China would still have a trade deficit of between US$2 billion-3 billion for the whole year, said Gao.

(China Daily May 12, 2003)

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