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China's Trade Deficit with E Asia Hits US$87.5 Bln
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Although China has an overall foreign trade surplus, it had a deficit of US$87.5 billion in 2006 with East Asian countries, said Liao Xiaoqi, vice minister of commerce, on Saturday.

Liao said at the 3rd East Asia Investment Forum that economic and trade exchanges between China and East Asian countries have been growing very fast, with the combined trade volume reaching US$502.4 billion in 2006, accounting for 32.5 percent of China's foreign trade for the year.

He said that China mainly imports raw materials and parts from East Asia, and exports the processed or assembled products to European and American markets.

China has become the largest export market for the Republic of Korea, the No. 2 export market for Japan, the No. 3 export market for Thailand, and the No. 4 export market for Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia.

"China's development has brought about growth opportunities for East Asian countries," he said.

He said that China pays close attention to regional economic cooperation, has signed a number of agreements with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and will set up free trade zone with ASEAN in 2010.

A total of 11 free trade zones have so far been set up or are being negotiated with foreign partners, he said, involving 28 countries and regions and accounting for a quarter of China's foreign trade.

More than 300 officials, scholars and entrepreneurs from China, Japan, ROK and ASEAN are participating in the 3rd East Asia Investment Forum, which focuses on overseas development strategies for Chinese enterprises.

(China.org.cn by Staff Reporter Wang Ke July 15, 2007)

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