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Report: China Trade Balance Likely In 2012

BEIJING, Aug. 23 (UPI) — China’s trade surplus may drop to $100 billion this year from last year’s $183 billion as imports rise and exports weaken, a trade expert said.

There could even be a trade balance in 2012, China Daily reported Tuesday, quoting Wei Jianguo, secretary-general of the think tank China Center for International Economic Exchange.

Wei, who spoke to the newspaper on the sidelines of the annual Beijing-Tokyo Forum, said imports are set to grow next year, while exports could be hit because of weakening demand from the United States and the European Union.

“Next year will be a critical period for China’s trade, as the ongoing debt crisis in the EU and U.S. reduces their demand while yuan appreciation and ever-increasing trade protectionism hit China’s exports,” said Wei, a former deputy commerce minister.

He said China’s exports to emerging economies may be growing rapidly, but only account for a third of those lost to developed economies.

“With exports declining next year and imports picking up, China may achieve a trade balance,” he said, adding the annual rate of export growth to EU countries could come down to about 15 percent this year, compared with 28 percent last year.

Currently, the EU is China’s largest trade partner, ahead of the United States and Japan.

Wei said the yuan topped 6.4 to the U.S. dollar for the first time in 17 years, and the Chinese currency is expected to appreciate by 7 percent this year and another 5 percent to 7 percent next year.

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