New global top trader coming to stage

Updated: 2013-09-25 01:50

By Li Jiabao (China Daily)

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China set to surpass the US in total volume of imports, exports

Thanks to a recovery in the global economy and reform at home, 2013 is likely to see China replace the United States to become the world's largest trader, a Ministry of Commerce spokesman said on Tuesday.

"The primary force for trade improvement comes from the government's efforts at stabilizing the economy and boosting foreign trade with supportive measures," Shen Danyang said at an economic seminar in Beijing.

He added that China's share of global exports will keep increasing after expanding from 10.3 percent in 2010 to 11.5 percent in the first half of this year.

Data from the General Administration of Customs showed that the nation's total volume of imports and exports in 2012 amounted to $3.86 trillion, second only to the US, which it trailed by a mere $15.64 billion, according to the World Trade Organization.

China's foreign trade has regained steam in recent months. The first eight months saw China's trade rise 8.3 percent from a year earlier with exports up 9.2 percent and imports increasing 7.3 percent, according to the ministry.

"The trade improvement will extend into the fourth quarter of this year, though fluctuations from the holidays, such as September and October, may technically distort the monthly trade figures," Shen said.

At the end of July, the State Council introduced measures to simplify customs clearance, cut administrative fees and increase financial aids.

The recovery of the world economy as well as the US economy improved the external environment while China's efforts on upgrading its foreign trade "enhanced the comprehensive competitiveness of enterprises", Shen noted.

He added that China's foreign trade was "splendid" in the first half of the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-15) with export structure significantly optimized, export markets diversified, trade pattern improved and imports enlarged.

Markets outside the US, the European Union and Japan accounted for 62.1 percent of China's overall exports in 2012, compared with 54.6 percent in 2010.

Private enterprises made up 41.7 percent of China's total exporters in export volume in the first half of this year, compared with 31.7 percent in 2010.

Trade with major partners are more balanced as imports registered $1.8 trillion in 2012, up 30 percent compared with 2010.

Reforms and opening-up were the major reasons for the strong performance of China's foreign trade in recent years, Shen said.

China signed free trade agreements with 18 economies to reduce tariffs and facilitate trade and investment, which greatly boosted the country's trade.

The special economic zones, including the free trade zone piloted in Shanghai, also helped drive trade growth, according to Shen.

"In the following two years, China's foreign trade will be more splendid than the first half of the 12th Five-Year Plan," Shen said.

"The domestic economy will bring more support to the country's trade development as the government deepens reforms and further opens up the market. Policies of stabilizing trade and encouraging the strategic emerging industries will also be in favor of trade development," Shen added.

The country's drive to establish a global free-trade network, including the China-Japan-South Korea FTA, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and the China-Australia FTA, which is in negotiations, will speed up the country's trade growth, according to Shen.

"It's sure that China will be the world's largest trader, but the added value of its exports is still much lower than the US," said Wang Haifeng, a researcher with the Institute for International Economic Research of the National Development and Reform Commission.

"We need to invest in talent, technology and improving the trade mechanism."