Wei Jianguo, Secretary General of the China Center for International Economic Exchange
With the rise of international trade protectionism and the still gloomy European economy, the situation of Chinese exports this year is not optimistic, said Wei Jianguo, Secretary General of the China Center for International Economic Exchange.
"Trade protectionism is on the rise in Western countries this year, especially the United States," Wei, former Vice Minister of Commerce, said at a press conference in Boao on south China's Hainan Island, on March 31, a day before the opening of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2012.
The establishment of the U.S. Interagency Trade Enforcement Center in February is a sign showing the United States will take more trade protection actions on China, Wei said.
"Even worse, other countries might follow suit and eventually cause the most severe trade protection disaster since the Second World War," he cautioned.
Wei said there is no signal that the European economy would recover soon. As the biggest export market for Chinese products, it affects Chinese exports greatly, especially small and medium-sized exporting enterprises in the coastal provinces of China.
Statistics of the General Administration of Customs of China show China's trade deficit of China in February reached $31.5 billion, the biggest in the last 10 years.
"This year, the Chinese export growth rate might drop back to the single digits," said Wei. "The yearly trade surplus of China in 2012 would be probably less than $50 billion."
In 2011, China's trade surplus was $155.14 billion, down 14.5 percent from the previous year.
Wei suggested the government should take measures to promote exports and give policy support to small and medium-sized enterprises.
"Small and medium-sized enterprises should first help themselves by diversifying markets and pursuing independent innovation. Policy support from government is also very important," Wei said.
Wei holds that the contribution of exports to China's gross domestic product (GDP) growth is likely to drop this year. China should no longer simply rely on the exports of goods, but should resort to trade in services, outsourcing and the cultural industry, he said.
"China's GDP growth target for 2012 has been downgraded to 7.5 percent this year from last year's 8 percent. But it aims at high-quality growth—sustainable, scientific and green growth," Wei said.