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Trade Deficit Needs Close Watch: Official

Despite its healthy development momentum, China should keep a close eye on the issue of intensifying trade imbalances, a foreign trade official said Thursday.

China saw a trade deficit of US$8.40 billion in the first quarter of this year with the deficit in February surging to US$7.90 billion.

Pressure will intensify for the nation to keep a trade balance, remarked Li Rongcan, deputy director of the planning and financial department of the Ministry of Commerce at a news conference on China's foreign trade development report Thursday.

Price hikes in energy and raw materials and China's export tariff rebate cut practices will hurt the competitiveness of many Chinese export commodities, he said.

And soaring imports due to the nation's overheated investment, price rises of global import commodities, and the reduction of import tariffs, will become another factor frustrating the trade balance, he added.

Other issues that should arouse the attention of foreign trade authorities are pressure on lower tariffs minimized non-tariff measures, as agreed in the WTO entry promise, as well as trade friction due to the international trade protectionism, he said.

China's general tariff level will fall to 10.4 percent, lower than most developing countries, and non-tariff measures are decreasing, he said, leaving tertiary industries, agriculture and manufacturing industries including the auto industry in a less favorable position to compete with their global rivals.

According to foreign trade report estimates, China will realize total imports and exports worth US$1,000 billion in 2004, a rise of 17 percent from a year ago.

(China Daily April 30, 2004)

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