China's import expansion benefits world economy

Updated: 2011-10-17 11:53


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GUANGZHOU -- The 110th Canton Fair, China's largest trade fair and a barometer of the country's foreign trade, is sending a clear message that China will expand imports from other parts of the world, and many analysts say this is the best gift China could give to the global economy.

China will continue to deepen its opening-up strategy, and increase imports while stabilizing exports in order to promote trade balance, Premier Wen Jiabao said at the opening ceremony of the fair in Guangzhou, capital city of south China's Guangdong province.

"Promoting trade balance dominates China's current foreign trade policies. The country is expected to accelerate the introduction of measures that aim to encourage imports," Vice Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said on the sidelines of the fair, which is officially called the China Import and Export Fair.

During the past few years, Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer of the National Retail Federation, came to the fair looking for goods appropriate for 1.6 million companies in the US retailing sector.

This year, however, Shay is switching gears toward exploring sales opportunities for his member retailers in the world's second-largest economy.

"We brought made-in-China to the US market a long time ago. Now we hope U.S. retail companies can flourish in Chinese market," he said.

Shay is not alone: according to the fair's organizers, 529 foreign enterprises, including Microsoft and General Electric, from 49 countries and regions came to the fair hoping to sell more goods to Chinese consumers.

China is shifting its foreign trade policy from only emphasizing exports to promoting trade balance, and many foreign representatives said the Chinese government's determination to increase imports is one of the reasons that attracted them to the fair.

The nation's annual import growth averaged 21.4 percent during the past decade, more than 10 percentage points higher than the world's annual import growth, according to official data.

China's imports accounted for 4.4 percent of global imports in 2002, and the proportion rose to 10 percent last year.

As the world's second-largest importer, China has become a major export destination for Japan, the European Union, Australia and the United States.

Vice President Xi Jinping said at the China-US Business Dialogue in August that China will import goods worth $8 trillion over the next five years.

The country's imports grew at a rate 4 percentage points higher than its export growth during the first three quarters of this year, with its trade surplus falling 10.6 percent year-on-year to stand at $12.7 billion.

Lu Peijun, deputy head of the General Administration of Customs, noted that China's trade is in the midst of rebalancing as imports rose sharply and trade surplus shrank, which will help boost global economic recovery.

China's efforts in expanding imports have played a significant role in combating the world financial crisis and driving economic recovery, said Harsha Vardhana Singh, deputy director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), at a sideline forum at the fair.

"It is vital for the world that China maintains open markets as the world will continue to benefit from China's growth," said Singh.

It is obvious that the world market has received the "import signal" sent by China.

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