Exports drop first time in 2 years

Updated: 2012-02-10 14:34

By Ding Qingfen (chinadaily.com.cn)

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BEIJING – China's exports for January decreased slightly from a year earlier, the first drop in more than two years, as demand from European markets continued to shrink and the week-long Chinese new year holiday slowed trade.

China's exports declined by 0.5 percent year-on-year to $149.9 billion. Imports dropped by 15.3 percent to $122.7 billion, leading to a trade surplus of $27.3 billion, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Last month, China's exports to the European Union fell by 3.2 percent year-on-year, dragged down by a drop of 28.2 percent in exports to Italy.

China's exports to emerging markets slowed, as exports to the ASEAN markets increased by a mere1.1 percent. The nation's exports to the regions of Hong Kong and Taiwan decreased by 16.4 and 28.2 percent respectively.

Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said on the ministry's website that China's export picture was not optimistic for January, and that the pressures on China's exporters, especially the micro-companies, are growing.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said last week that China will try to maintain "stable" foreign trade policies, adding that any adjustments, if made, should be more "encouraging than restrictive".

Chen echoed Wen's remarks by saying that China will try to maintain stability with its import and export policies, including tax rebates for exports, currency policy, and policy for the processing trade.

Since late last year, Chinese exporters have been complaining about the worsening business environment at home and abroad, particularly shrinking global demand from the developed markets, rising Chinese currency rates, growing labor costs, and raw materials.

China's yuan advanced to an 18-year high on Friday, standing at 6.2937 per dollar.