Business / Economy

China vows to narrow trade deficit in technology

By Li Jiabao (China Daily) Updated: 2012-12-07 09:19

Contract value of high-tech imports hits $32.2 billion in 2011, up 25.5%

China aims to boost exports of technological products to narrow the $10 billion deficit in the industry, as the country improves its manufacturing sector and restructures its economic growth, a trade official said on Thursday.

"Chinese companies are changing from technology importers to exporters, and the country's technology exports have entered a fast-growing phase," Zhou Liujun, director-general of the Department of Trade in Services and Commercial Services of the Ministry of Commerce, told a press conference held to promote the 2013 China (Shanghai) International Technology Fair.

The first edition of the annual fair - which aims to be a means of combine technology, talent, capital and industries - will be held in Shanghai from May 8 to May 11.

Shanghai, together with the coastal Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, accounted for 38 percent of China's total imports and exports of technology in 2011, Zhou said.

China's technology trade was worth $53.56 billion in 2011, compared with $22.61 billion in 2006. In 2011, the contracted value of China's imported technology products stood at $32.16 billion, up 25.5 percent year-on-year.

The lasting deficit in technology trade is rooted in China's strong demand for high technology as the country shifts from a "Made-in-China" model to a "Created-in-China" model, which makes it almost impossible to reach a balance in technology trade in the short term through a reduction in technology imports, Zhou said.

"We should concentrate on the structural balance of technology trade. Imported technology is urgently needed for our manufacturing sector improving efforts and can save costs in research and development," Zhou said.

"On the other hand, China has made important technology advances in the past decades and has great potential for export," he added.

The contracted value of technology exports increased from $580 million in 2006 to $21.4 billion in 2011.

Exports mainly include computer software, which accounted for 89.2 percent of China's exports in the sector last year, and technology consulting and services, as well as the licensing of proprietary technology.

Zhou said the Shanghai fair can also serve as a means for technology buyers to meet suppliers, and will lower the costs and risks, as well as break technology barriers imposed by developed economies.

During his meeting with former United States Treasury secretary Henry Paulson on Wednesday, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang urged the US to loosen restrictions on high-technology exports to China as soon as possible.

The restrictions - which cover about 2,400 types of technology - contributed to the trade imbalance between the two countries, Commerce Minister Chen Deming said in May.

Separately, the Chinese government also said it will boost efforts in the intellectual property protection field, and will set up an IPR alert mechanism to resolve disputes in technology trade.

A technology evaluation system is also in a pilot stage, according to Cao Donggen, deputy director general of the patent administration department of China's State Intellectual Property Office.

Technology trade accounted for 12 percent of China's services trade in recent years, implying there is great scope for expansion, according to Zhou.

China's services trade is expected to grow more than 10 percent year-on-year in 2012, according to Zhou. The growth pace is very satisfactory compared, for instance, with the country's goods trade growth, which stood at 6.3 percent in the first 10 months of the year, and is almost set to miss the 10 percent growth target set for 2012.

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