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Chen Deming, the former minister of commerce, said at a news briefing during the annual two sessions that the nation's foreign trade this year will be slightly better than last.
China's foreign trade in the first two months of the year gained 14.2 percent year-on-year, compared with 7.3 percent in 2012, according to the General Administration of Customs.
Wei Jianguo, former vice-minister of commerce, said 2013 is a severe year for Gao and the ministry, especially given the grim external situation.
"The ministry will have to be fully prepared for rising trade friction," he said.
Premier Li Keqiang said the highest priority for China will be to maintain sustainable economic growth.
According to Li Xunlei, deputy CEO of Haitong Securities Co Ltd in Shanghai, China will have to shift its growth model to consumption-led, and cut supply chain costs.
"China will continue to welcome foreign investment, especially encouraging them to go into the high-tech and R&D in central and western parts of China," said Gao.
Gao said that the multilateral trade system led by the WTO is the cornerstone of global free trade and cannot be replaced just by regional trade.
"Any country can selectively conduct regional trade talks and cooperation, but this is only complementary to the multilateral trade system," said Gao.
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