China's 2011 foreign trade surges 22.5%

Updated: 2012-01-10 13:34


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BEIJING -- China's foreign trade surged 22.5 percent in 2011 from a year earlier to $3.64 trillion, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said Tuesday.

The country's annual trade surplus narrowed 14.5 percent year on year to $155.14 billion in 2011, the administration said.

The figure has fallen from $295.47 billion in 2008, $196.07 billion in 2009, and $183.1 billion in 2010.

Exports rose 20.3 percent year-on-year to reach $1.9 trillion last year, compared with an increase of 31.3 percent in 2010, while imports grew 24.9 percent to $1.74 trillion, much lower than 2010's growth of 38.7 percent, the GAC said.

In December, the country's exports totaled $174.72 billion, up 13.4 percent year-on-year. Imports increased 11.8 percent year-on-year to $158.2 billion.

China, already the world's second-largest importer, is expected to take over as the world's top importer in another two or three years and contribute to global economic recovery, said Zhou Shijian, a senior research fellow from the Center for US-China Relations, Tsinghua University.

Zhou further noted that China should consider measures to spur exports instead of "stabilizing exports," as the government has stated. He projected growth in exports, once a major engine driving China's fast economic expansion, to continue registering in the single digits this year.

Weakening demand for exports because of the Eurozone debt morass and a sluggish US economy have weighed on the Chinese economy, as its GDP growth slowed to 9.1 percent in the third quarter of 2011 from 9.5 percent in the second quarter and 9.7 percent in the first quarter.

The country is scheduled to release its GDP data for the fourth quarter as well as all of 2011 on January 17.

The GAC data showed China's trade with emerging economies greatly outpaced last year's average growth, with its trade with Brazil, Russia and South Africa rising by 34.5 percent, 42.7 percent and 76.7 percent, respectively.

The European Union (EU) remained China's top trading partner, with bilateral trade amounting to $567.21 billion, up 18.3 percent year-on-year.

China's trade with the United States, the country's No. 2 trading partner, rose 15.9 percent from a year ago to $446.65 billion.

A free trade area arrangement between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) continued to boost China-ASEAN trade, which rose by 23.9 percent year-on-year to $362.85 billion in 2011.