China's Commerce Minister Chen Deming said Monday that the country's trade surplus would narrow this year as the growth of imports was likely to soon outpace that of exports.
Growth in China's foreign trade will slow this year, Chen told reporters during the annual session of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, adding that he could not rule out the possibility that China would register trade deficits in some months.
Imports will expand rapidly this year as the country steps up efforts to restructure the economy, push forward its free trade agreements and improve import regulations, he said.
Chen expects the country to see a mild increase in this year's exports due to complicated domestic and international situations, including exchange rate fluctuations, increasing protectionism, higher costs of raw materials and labor as well as a shortage of domestic labor.
"Higher standard of energy efficiency and environmental protection will further push up costs of production," he said.
Chen said the principle for this year's foreign trade policy is to "stabilize exports, boost imports while having a lower trade surplus."
He noted the trade surplus in proportion to GDP would continue to drop this year but refused to give a specific forecast, which he said is difficult to make. The proportion was 3.1 percent for last year.
China's trade surplus fell to $183 billion last year, from a record $296 billion in 2008.
Despite increasing uncertainties and difficulties, the outlook for China's foreign trade remains good this year, he said.
Chen said China will not "substantially" increase the imports of farm produce this year.
He also hoped some western countries will remove restrictions on exports to China.
(Xinhua News Agency March 7, 2011)