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Minister: China's exports to grow steadily
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China is expected to achieve a steady growth in exports this year despite the trade surplus shrinking last month, Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said Wednesday.

But China will never deliberately pursue trade surplus and will actively take measures to work toward a trade balance between China and other countries, Chen told reporters on the sidelines of the annual session of the parliament.

China's monthly trade surplus shrank to 8.56 billion U.S. dollars in February, roughly one third of the level in the same month last year, the General Administration of Customs said on Monday.

The country's trade volume in February reached 166.181 billion U.S. dollars, 18.4 percent up from a year earlier, according to the administration.

Statistics show that imports surged by 35.1 percent to 78.81 billion U.S.dollars while exports rose just 6.5 percent to 87.37 U.S.dollars last month.

Chen attributed the decline of the export growth to the Lunar New Year holiday during which factories halt production, the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis that has slowed down economic growth and reduced consumption demand, and the Chinese government's regulatory measures on foreign trade, such as lowering the export tax rebates for labor-intensive products including garments and shoes to discourage exports.

Chen also noted that the accelerating appreciation of China's currency, or yuan, against U.S. dollar contributed to the export growth drop.

The yuan set a new high on Feb 29, hitting a central parity rate of 7.1058 yuan against one U.S. dollar. Over the first two months of this year, the Chinese currency appreciated 2.80 percent and climbed 14.13 percent against the U.S. dollar since a new currency regime was imposed in July 2005 to revalue and de-peg it from the dollar.

(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2008)

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