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China's trade surplus hits $1.68 bln, down sharply in April

BEIJING, May 10 (Xinhua) -- China returned to a trade surplus in April on strong exports growth after posting its first monthly deficit in almost six years in March, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) announced Monday.

The GAC figures showed China's exports in April were valued at 119.92 billion U.S. dollars, up 30.5 percent year on year and 6.3 percent from March.

In the same month, the country's imports reached 118.24 billion U.S. dollars, up 49.7 percent year on year, but down less than 1 percent from March, according to the Customs statistics.

China's April trade surplus of 1.68 billion U.S. dollars was down sharply by 87 percent from the same month last year, according to the GAC.

China recorded a monthly deficit of 7.24 billion U.S. dollars in March and posted a trade surplus of 1.68 billion U.S. dollars in April.

Total April external trade rose 39.4 percent year on year to 238.16 billion U.S. dollars.

Li Jian, a research fellow with the Research Institute of the Ministry of Commerce, said China's trade surplus had been falling since the start of the year as a result of faster growth of imports than exports.

"A shrinking trade surplus or even monthly deficit shows China's imports and exports are more balanced," he said. "This is a sign of the healthy growth of China's foreign trade and will help relieve pressure for the yuan revaluation."

In the first four months, exports rose 29.2 percent year on year to 436.05 billion U.S. dollars, while imports surged 60.1 percent to 419.94 billion U.S. dollars, with a trade surplus of 16.11 billion U.S. dollars, sharply down 78.6 percent from a year earlier.

Analysts and officials said as both imports and exports maintained steady growth since the beginning of 2010, the falling trade surplus was "a good sign of more balanced trade situation" for China.

Zhang Xiaoji, a researcher at the National Development Research Center of the State Council, China's Cabinet, said investment and consumption has achieved sustained and rapid growth after China adopted a massive economic stimulus package in the middle of global financial crisis.

"The sustained growth of domestic demand helped fuel the country's strong demand for imports," Zhang said.

Huang Guohua, director of Department of Integrated Statistics of the GAC, expected China's imports volume to maintain strong growth in the coming months as prices of commodities such crude oil and iron ore had rebounded in global markets.

GAC statistics showed China imported 210 million tonnes of iron ore from January to April with an average import price of 100.3 U.S. dollars per tonne, up 27.2 percent year on year.

Price hikes of energy, raw materials, shipping and rising trade protectionism and pressure for China to appreciate its currency would pose challenges for China's exporters, according to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Commerce last month.

Yao Jian, spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce, said last month that China's trade surplus would fall by about 100 billion from last year.

China posted a trade surplus of 196.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2009, down 34.2 percent year on year.

According to the GAC figures for the January-April period, the European Union remained China's largest trade partner, with bilateral trade topping 137.77 billion U.S. dollars, up 34.6 percent year on year.

Trade in January-April between China and the United States, the country's second largest trade partner, increased 25 percent to 107.18 billion U.S. dollars.

Japan outpaced the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as China's third largest trading partner in the first four months.

Trade for January-April with Japan rose 37.5 percent to 88.66 billion U.S. dollars, up 34.6 percent. In the first four months, China's trade deficit with Japan more than doubled to 17.72 billion U.S. dollars.

China also recorded a trade deficit of 5.87 billion U.S. dollars with the ASEAN bloc from January to April, compared with a surplus of 830 million U.S. dollars in the same period last year.



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