Nation seeks better trade efficiency

Updated: 2013-03-06 07:06

By Li Jiabao (China Daily)

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Premier vows strategy that will stabilize exports, expand imports

China is shifting its focus from expanding trade volume to enhancing trade quality and efficiency as well as developing new competitive advantages in exports, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Tuesday.

"We will implement a more active opening-up strategy and combine stabilizing exports and expanding imports while advancing trade from expansion to the improvement of quality and efficiency," Wen said in the Government Work Report at the first session of the 12th National People's Congress, which will run from March 5 to 17.

"We will transform the advantage of cost and pricing to comprehensive competitiveness and promote the development of new export competitiveness supported by technology, brand, quality and service," Wen said.

Huo Jianguo, president of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a think tank affiliated with the Ministry of Commerce, said that it is the first time for the government to put comprehensive competitiveness and new export advantages in the Government Work Report.

"That's the major task for China's foreign trade at present, but the outlining of the comprehensive trade competitive advantage needs supporting trade and industrial policies from the central government as overall costs keep rising across the country. Meanwhile, the development of new export competitiveness mainly depends on exporters and businesses," Huo said.

A report from the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning body, said that the country will strive to increase the total foreign trade volume by about 8 percent in 2013, lower than the 10 percent target last year but higher than the real growth in 2012. Meanwhile, trade in services will be accelerated.

Foreign trade in the world's second largest economy rose 6.2 percent year-on-year in 2012 to $3.87 trillion, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

The NDRC report added that China's export prospects remain grim as overseas demand from major economies remain weak amid slow world economic growth and as protectionism is clearly reasserting itself.

"The world economic structure will continue to change. We must implement a more active opening-up strategy and quickly create new competitive advantages to make better use of international and domestic markets and resources, stabilizing and expanding our share in the international market and further improving our open economy," the report said.

Tang Jianwei, an economist at Bank of Communications in Shanghai, said that China's exports will be slightly better than last year with a projected growth of 8.5 percent, contrasted to 7.9 percent in 2012.

"China's exports will say farewell to the double-digit growth of the past decades and maintain a moderate pace of about 10 percent in the future as the country is already a leading world trader. But the performance is still outstanding among major economies," Tang said.

Meanwhile, China's restructuring of its economic growth model from exports to domestic consumption also requires the transformation of foreign trade to increase value added, according to Tang.

"There is no time left to transform the trade growth pattern, as the advantage of low costs and prices has been fading away amid rising costs at home and competition from neighboring countries. In addition, renminbi appreciation has added to the capital burden of exporters," Tang said.

(China Daily 03/06/2013 page6)