China's trade surplus with the European Union (EU) for 2009 will be less than last year, a senior official of the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said Monday.
Trade surplus with the EU has already eased so far this year, said Sun Yongfu, the ministry's department chief in charge of European affairs.
Customs figures show China's surplus with EU was about $55.7 billion in the first seven months of the year, less than half of last year's total of $160 billion.
He said the decline in China's export to the EU has accelerated while the fall in the country's imports to the EU has eased.
China's exports to EU were worth $103.5 billion in the first half, down 24.5 percent from a year earlier.
China's imports to EU stood at $56.5 billion in the first six months, down 13.1 percent from a year ago and easing from 15.1 percent in the first quarter.
"There has already been a sharp fall in China's trade surplus with the EU so far, and the figure for the whole year will not be as large as that of last year," he said, "Trade between the two sides will become more balanced."
Sun said he hoped the EU would check potential protectionism arising in the EU, as with increasing trade there had been friction between the two partners.
There had been nonstandard practices and violations of rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the filing, investigation and rulings in some cases, he said.
"Some of China's major trading partners have showed signs of protectionism during the global financial crisis, and there has been rising trade protectionism inside the EU," he said.
Sun said he hoped the EU and its member countries would make positive responses to China's efforts to fight protectionism. He said there had been $23 billion worth of procurement contracts signed between Chinese delegations and European firms since the beginning of the year.
"Trade friction could be under control on the whole," he said, "as both sides have sophisticated systems to address the issues and the proportion of friction is not large, taking into account total trade."