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WTO rates China as fourth largest merchandise trader(11/06/03)

  China has become the fourth largest merchandise trader in 2002 if counting the European Union as a single trader, according to the International Trade Statistics 2003 released by World Trade Organization (WTO) on Nov.6.

    The WTO pointed out China's trade expansion remained outstanding. In the 1990s, China's trade growth was three times faster than global trade and between 2000 and 2002 its exports and imports rose by 30 percent, while world trade stagnated.

    According to WTO statistics, in 2002, world trade recovered from its steep decline in 2001. The average annual rate of merchandise trade expansion in 2002 was limited to three percent in real terms, only half the rate observed in the 1990s.

    The trade recovery in 2002 benefited from strong import demand in developing Asia, the transition economies and the United States. Sluggish import demand in Western Europe and a sharp contraction of Latin America's imports constituted a drag on global trade expansion.

    The WTO said that a combination of declining exports and rising imports by the United States has led to a record trade and current account deficit, the latter equivalent to five percent of its GDP.

    Chemicals emerged as the product group with the strongest trade growth over the last two years. Driven by pharmaceutical trade among the developed countries, its share in world merchandise exports rose above 10 percent, exceeding in value not only world trade in automotive products, but also that of agricultural products.

    Developments in the first half of 2003 and the improvements of the leading indicators in the third quarter lead to a projection of world merchandise trade growth of three percent, basically unchanged from the preceding year's rate.


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