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China's 2005 trade surplus hits near US$102b
Updated: 2006-01-11 10:59

China's trade surplus surged to $101.88 billion last year, more than triple the $32 billion surplus recorded the year before, according to customs figures released Wednesday.

Exports rose 28.4 percent year-on-year in 2005 to $762 billion, while imports rose 17.6 percent to $660 billion, the General Administration of Customs said in a report posted on its Web site.

The figures were largely in line with expectations, but they were likely to draw more pressure for Beijing to loosen foreign exchange controls that U.S. officials and other critics contend keep China's currency, the yuan, undervalued. That makes Chinese exports relatively cheap in overseas markets.

The government forecast this week that growth in exports would slow significantly this year due to higher oil prices and simmering friction over China's burgeoning trade surpluses.

The main planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, estimated in a report published Wednesday in the state-run newspaper China Securities Journal that exports would rise about 15 percent year-on-year in 2006, with imports climbing about 18 percent.

Strong export growth has been a key factor behind China's feverish economic growth in recent years. The commission estimated that growth hit 9.8 percent in 2005, and says it is expected to slow to a still-torrid pace of 8.5 percent to 9 percent this year.

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