China downcast on exports as EU debt woes

Updated: 2010-07-20 15:34
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China sounded a gloomy note on Tuesday about its export prospects, warning in particular that belt-tightening by deeply indebted European Union governments would dampen demand for the country's goods.

Calling the trade picture "still complicated and grim," the Ministry of Commerce said high growth in exports in the first half would give way to slow growth in the second half.

"The sovereign debt crisis has made many EU countries shift to fiscal austerity from fiscal expansion, which will greatly restrict consumption and investment growth in the EU," the ministry's spokesman, Yao Jian, told a news conference.

Cheap, labor-intensive products would be less vulnerable to drooping European demand than more expensive, discretionary goods, he added.

Spain, Italy, Germany and non-euro member Britain are among EU countries that are tightening their budgets after Greece had to be bailed out in April, raising a red flag about the sustainability of public finances across Europe.

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Furthermore, Brazil, India and other emerging economies have started to tighten monetary policy, the Commerce Ministry said.

"The room for the further growth of Chinese exports is limited," Yao said.

As a result, the ministry would keep in place policies aimed at supporting external demand for Chinese goods, including retaining export tax rebates.

Chinese exports grew 43.9 percent in June from a year earlier, beating forecasts, after 48.5 percent year-on-year growth in May. However, imports have also boomed, meaning net exports barely contributed to first-half growth in gross domestic product, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Export growth in the second half of this year will slow to just 16.3 percent, giving full-year growth of about 24.5 percent, the State Information Center, a leading government think tank, said in a report published on Monday.