China's imports from emerging markets surge

Updated: 2011-04-14 09:39

By Lan Lan (China Daily)

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China's imports from emerging markets surge

A group of representatives from South Africa at the BRICS Summit on Wednesday in Sanya, Hainan province. [Photo / China Daily] 

BEIJING - China's imports from emerging countries, especially South Africa and Brazil, grew dramatically in the first quarter of the year. Analysts said China's trading ties with other BRICS countries will continue to grow because of the country's rising demand, but warned that trade among the bloc also faces uncertainty.

China's imports from South Africa surged by 172 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, while exports grew 24.1 percent. Meanwhile, imports from Brazil climbed 71.9 percent from a year earlier in the first quarter, according to the General Administration of Customs.

"It's hard to predict whether China's imports from other emerging economies will continue to grow as in the first quarter, but China's trade ties with the bloc will get closer," said Li Yong, deputy secretary-general of the China Association of International Trade.

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Li said the abundant natural resources of emerging countries, including South Africa and Brazil's various mineral products, and Russia's oil, will provide sustainable supplies for China's rapid growth.

According to the pan-African lender Standard Bank Group, the BRICS countries' combined share of global trade in 2008 rose by around 14 percent from 6.9 percent in 1999.

South Africa has recently joined Brazil, Russia, India and China in the trading bloc extending the BRIC to BRICS.

Trade among the BRICS members increased from $21.6 billion in 2001 to $154.5 billion in 2009, according to the blue book on socio-economic development in the BRICS nations, released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences last week.

Between 2001 and 2009, China's trade with India surged 12-fold and that with South Africa increased by 8 times, said the report. China has also become South Africa's largest trade partner.

Huo Jianguo, director of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said growth has been mainly powered by China's high investment-driven growth rather than consumption growth, and therefore the high volume of imports might not continue in the long run.

Moreover, emerging markets are facing challenges, such as rising inflation, and some have adopted tightening measures and have fine-tuned interest rates, which will add to more uncertainty for the emerging powers and might hamper their economic development.

A slowdown would, in turn, affect economic recovery in the United States and the European Union (EU), according to Huo, because trade among the emerging economies is small when compared with the BRICS trading with the US and the EU.

The emerging markets were prominent in stimulating the world economic recovery. They have contributed to more than 45 percent of world economic growth since the beginning of the financial crisis, said Huo.

To avoid the potential risks, it's important for the developed economies to increasingly open their market to the emerging countries and to remove the existing trade barriers, Huo said.

Along with the increasing volume of trade within the emerging economies, they also face the possibility of trade disputes.

"They are trade partners as well as potential competitors in some sectors. Trade disputes among emerging economies are natural," said Li of the China Association of International Trade.

However, the trade ties among emerging economies will become "relatively stable" as they will gradually discover each other's competitive edge, Li said.



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