First White Paper on China's Foreign Trade by State Council Information Office

A big contributor to global economic growth

On December 7, 2011, the State Council Information Office issued a white paper titled China's Foreign Trade, the first of such to deal with this issue. Chong Quan, vice international trade representative of the Ministry of Commerce, said in the press conference that, according to the World Bank's statistics, China's GDP kept growing in its share of world GDP from 2002 to 2010. China's contribution to world GDP grew from 4.6 percent in 2003 to 14.5 percent in 2009, making itself the world's second largest economy.

An important force to ensure stable global economic growth

The white paper shows that, since China began to adopt the policy of reform and opening up in the late 1970s, China's foreign trade has realized leapfrog development, with its total volume of foreign trade ranking among the world's top traders as well as the world's biggest exporter and second biggest importer. China's foreign trade structure has also undergone fundamental changes. In the past, Chinese exports focused on primary products, but now industrial products are playing a major role. Meanwhile, China has gradually developed an all-directional and diversified import and export market pattern, while at the same time China's service trade is becoming increasingly competitive in the global market.

China's economic development has brought tangible interest to the rest of the world. Chong said that according to Goldman Sachs, from 2000 to 2009, China's accumulative contribution rate to world economy surpassed 20 percent, higher than that of the United States. In 2009, China's imports increased 2.8 percent over the previous year, making it the only major economy to import more. While global trade dropped by 12.9 percent, China's imports were valued at more than $1 trillion. As the second biggest importer in the world, China has made great contributions to global economic recovery.

Statistics from the WTO show that, from 2000 to 2009, China's export volume increased by 17 percent and its import volume increased by 15 percent, much higher than the annual growth rate of 3 percent of total global trade volume during the same period of time.

What's noteworthy is that, from 2007 to 2010, the import values of China from least developed countries jumped from $23.8 billion to $43.2 billion. Since 2008, China has become the largest export market of least developed countries. Meanwhile, China also promises to offer zero-tariff treatment to 95 percent of the tax items of least developed countries' exports to China, and cancel overdue government interest-free loans owed by least developed countries and heavily indebted countries.

"China is now an important force to maintain stable global economic growth," said Chong Quan.

Not intent on foreign trade surplus

On foreign trade balance, the white paper stresses, "China is not deliberately seeking foreign trade surpluses."

As a matter of fact, trade deficit has long been the situation in China's service industry. Before 1990, trade in goods was in deficit for many years. Later, with the large-scale transfer of international industries, Chinese industrial products' competitiveness began to grow, which helps to make its export growth surpass imports and the overall trade deficit was changed into a surplus.

"A country's trade deficit or surplus is mainly decided by its economic structure and also the international competitiveness of its products and service," said the white paper. It is because China's manufacturing industry and service industry are at different levels of international labor division and statuses that Chinese goods trade has been in surplus while its service trade has long been in deficit.

China's goods trade surplus mainly comes from foreign-invested companies and processing trade. Statistics show that, during 2009 and 2010, foreign-invested companies' goods surplus was respectively $127 billion and $124.3 billion, accounting for 64.8 percent and 68.4 percent of China's total goods trade surplus for the same period of time. Processing trade surplus for the two years was respectively $264.6 billion and $322.9 billion, much higher than China's total surplus volume for the same period. However, Chinese state-owned enterprises have deficits in terms of import and export, common trade and other forms of trade.

Besides, because some developed countries have restrictions on the trade of some new and high-tech products, this has affected the trade balance between China and some of its trade partners.

The white paper says the Chinese Government attaches great importance to the imbalance in China's foreign trade, and has adopted a series of policies and measures to curb excessively rapid growth of trade surpluses. In 2010, Chinese goods' trade surplus accounted for 6.1 percent of the country's total import and export volume and 3.1 percent of its GDP. Of the nine countries that have the largest global trade imbalance (surplus or deficit), China's trade imbalance is not the most serious.

No politicalization of economic problems and trade frictions

Of course, with rapid growth of foreign trade, China begins to encounter more and more trade frictions. "In recent years, we have seen anti-dumping investigations and more and more anti-subsidy investigations targeting China, including Section 337 investigations by the United States. These investigations reveal that China is the top dumping and subsidy provider, and since then, China has never got rid of the imposed top title," Li Chenggang, Director General of the Legal Affairs Department of the Ministry of Commerce, said helplessly.

According to Li, trade frictions related to China are unavoidable phenomena in the rapid and sound development of China's trade.

Li said that based on observation and analyses, trade protectionism in other countries led to quite a high proportion of trade frictions. Besides, it's also because sometimes, Chinese companies are not very familiar with trade rules, and exhibit improper operation and management methods.

"We have always been opposed to politicalization of economic and trade problems and trade frictions," said Li. Trade frictions come from competition, so the answers to the questions of how to seek cooperation in competition and how to dissolve frictions in competition are in need of deep wisdom of various sides.

Copyright © China Internet Information Center. All Rights Reserved
E-mail: Tel: 86-10-88828000