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Export slowdown in a reasonable zone: Minister
Latest Updated at 2008-April-18 09:34:28

Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said on Tuesday that export growth had slowed but remained in a reasonable zone, while the impact of the sub-prime crisis would be closely monitored.

China's import and export situation was "relatively satisfactory" and excessive panic was "unnecessary," Chen said at the ongoing Canton Fair in the southern city of Guangzhou. The fair opened on Tuesday.

His comments followed Friday's release of first-quarter customs figures that showed China's quarterly trade surplus had contracted 10.8 percent year-on-year to US$ 41.42 billion.

Analysts attributed the rare decline in the surplus to weakening external demand caused by the spreading credit crisis. The swiftly rising yuan and export policy adjustments were also factors, they said.

Chen acknowledged that those factors, plus global consumer price index rises, had combined to have "some effect" on exports. Anticipation of higher prices led many consumers around the world to reduce discretionary spending, said analysts.

Chen vowed to keep a close eye on the international instability factors, including the credit crisis' impact on finance and market in the United States and Europe, and consumer confidence in those markets.

In the first three months of 2008, China's exports rose 21.4 percent year-on-year to US$ 305.9 billion, which was 6.4 percentage points lower than the growth rate in 2007's same period.

Changes in the export structure by destination and product would be closely followed, said Chen.

He said that gains in exports to the United States had slackened while those to the European Union, Japan and new markets were on the rise.

Meanwhile, exports of labor-intensive products like textiles, garments, suitcases, shoes and toys saw much slower increases but were still rising, he noted.

The government has curbed certain exports by cutting export rebates or imposing export taxes. Efforts to cut the production and export of products from smokestack industries would not be reduced, he stressed.

The Canton fair, or the China Import and Export Fair, is a biannual export-promotion event held in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province.

This year, 514 foreign companies from 51 countries and regions will take part. This year's fair runs from April 15-30.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China View website
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