China predicts foreign trade slowdown
( 2003-12-04 01:14) (Agencies)
China predicted Wednesday that its foreign trade would slow dramatically in 2004, even as a former top trade envoy said Beijing hopes to resolve tensions over its trade surplus with the United States through negotiation instead of retaliation.
Growth in China's total trade will be only 8 percent in 2004, down sharply from the 36.4 percent growth in the first 10 months of this year compared with a year earlier, Fu Ziying, an assistant minister at the Ministry of Commerce, told a business conference in Beijing.
China forecast that its trade surplus this year is likely to be less than half the US$30.4 billion surplus of last year, as growth in imports outpaces export growth.
Last week, Washington announced measures to discourage sales on Chinese television imports, drawing a heated response from Beijing amid clashes over textiles, steel and soybeans. Chinese officials have summoned the U.S. ambassador because of trade issues at least twice, and have delayed an important mission aimed at purchasing U.S. goods.
But Chinese officials said China is eager to resolve such disputes through negotiations and avoid a potentially damaging series of retaliatory measures.
"The problems in Sino-U.S. trade will not develop into a severe trade war," China Securities Journal quoted China's former envoy to the WTO, Long Yongtu, as saying.
Now is not the time for Beijing to take "final trade measures," Long was quoted as saying.
The newspaper didn't say when Long made the comments, which were carried as a brief notice published Wednesday.
Although Long is no longer China's key trade negotiator, he remains in the government and is the person best known overseas as speaking on behalf of Beijing on trade policy matters.
On Wednesday, the Commerce Ministry reiterated its objections to a recent U.S. decision to impose import quotas on Chinese brassieres, knitted goods and dressing gowns, saying the move was a violation of both bilateral and World Trade Organization rules that "jeopardized normal trade."
China reserves the right as a WTO member to safeguard its own domestic industries, Chong Quan, a ministry spokesman, said in a statement posted on the ministry's Web site.
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