The situation surrounding China's exports will become more
complicated and severe in the coming months amid an increasing
number of trade protectionist measures and slackening global
demand, the Ministry of Commerce said on Friday.
China will roll out policies regarding currency and tax rebates
to bolster exports, Zhong Shan, deputy minister of commerce,
said at a forum in Beijing, adding that it will be more arduous
for the Chinese government to stabilize export growth.
According to the General Administration of Customs, China's
exports declined 0.5 percent over the year in January, the
first fall in more than two years. During the first two months,
Chinese shipments grew by merely 6.9 percent year-on-year.
The figures are far less than the previous year and they set a
pessimistic tone for the whole year, Zhong said.
From January to February of 2011, China's exports grew by
21.3 percent year-on-year.
According to Zhong, industrial competitiveness, global demand
and the business environment are the decisive trends for the
nation's exports, and they are all "not
China is losing its dominant competitiveness in labor costs as
the nation pledges to raise minimum wages for workers to
improve their livelihoods, Zhong said.
"The world economy is entering into a very difficult
period, and trade cases targeting Chinese goods are
growing," he said.
The United States recently announced it was setting up the
Interagency Trade Enforcement Center to see whether its trade
partners play by the rules. The move is widely seen as
increasing frictions between China and the US.
In the first 11 months of last year, 58 trade remedy cases were
launched worldwide against China, and China has been the major
target for trade protectionism for a decade.
Earlier this month, Premier Wen Jiabao set a target of 10
percent for foreign trade growth this year.
Zhong said the measures China will take to try to stabilize
exports include "improving policies related to foreign
trade, encouraging exporters to sharpen competitiveness in
technology, brand, quality and service, and guiding them to
prioritize selling goods to emerging markets, shifting away
from developed markets led by the US and the EU".
Li Gang, an expert on European economic issues with the Chinese
Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation
affiliated with the ministry, said China's exports to the
EU will be severely challenged this year as the region's
economy is on a downward trend.
According to Customs, from January to February, China's
exports to the EU, the largest trade partner for China, dropped
1.1 percent from a year earlier.
"The second half will be better than the first half, but
the growth of Chinese shipments to the region will probably
drop to single digits this year," Li said.
Yet some analysts said China's exports are resilient.
"Despite the negative factors at home and abroad, China
could achieve growth above 10 percent in 2012," said Bi
Jiyao, a researcher at the Academy of Macroeconomic Research
with the National Development and Reform Commission.
Despite the slowdown in export growth, "we can never
ignore the significance of exports in driving the economy and
industries, and in creating jobs", said Wang Shouwen,
director of the department of foreign trade of the ministry.
"There is a lot of room for foreign trade and exports to
grow," Wang said, as China accounted for only 11 percent
of global foreign trade in 2011 and Chinese industries still
enjoy advantages worldwide.