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Trade surplus rises to US$9.49 in January
Updated: 2006-02-13 13:49

China's trade surplus rose 46.7 percent in January year-on-year to 9.49 billion dollars.

Imports for the month totalled 55.5 billion dollars, up 25.4 percent, while exports rose 28.1 percent to 64.9 billion dollars, the Ministry of Commerce reported on its website, quoting statistics from the Customs.

China's trade surplus totalled 6.49 billion dollars in January last year.

Overall trade in January this year was valued at 120.49 billion dollars, up 26.8 percent from the same month in 2005.

The figures for the first month of 2006 come after China's trade surplus more than tripled last year to a record 101.9 billion dollars as the country maintained robust economic growth of 9.9 percent.

China's growing trade surplus has caused friction with many of its trade partners, most notably the United States, who argue Beijing is keeping the yuan artificially high and giving it an unfair trade advantage on the world stage.

China scrapped the yuan's 11-year-old peg against the dollar in July last year. It now links the yuan to a basket of currencies.

The move has seen the value of the yuan appreciate from about 8.28 to the dollar to 8.04 yuan on Friday last week.

Although Friday's close was a post-revaluation high, the United States and others argue restrictions on the currency need to be loosened further.

Huang Yiping, a Hong Kong-based economist with Citigroup, told AFP that China was taking steps to balance its trade numbers and the surplus was expected to remain about 100 billion dollars for the full year.

The yuan was also expected to continue to appreciate and could reach about 7.8 to the dollar by December, he predicted.

In an effort to address its trade surplus with the United States, China could also go on a US buying spree by as early as April, when President Hu Jintao is due to visit the United States, Huang said.

"Certainly China is making efforts to increase its imports, especially from the United States," he said.

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