China sees gloomy 2013 foreign trade environment

PHOTO: China sees gloomy 2013 foreign trade environment

BEIJING - China said Tuesday it faces a bleak foreign trade environment in 2013 due to ongoing global economic weakness, as the Asian export powerhouse appears set to miss this year's trade growth target.

Beijing set its 2012 target for total trade growth at 10 per cent, but admitted recently that it was unlikely to be achieved, blaming sluggish overseas demand, particularly in Japan and the debt-laden eurozone.

In the first 11 months of the year, total trade rose just 5.8 per cent from the same period in 2011 to US$3.5 trillion, with exports up 7.3 per cent to US$1.8 trillion (S$2.2 trillion), official data showed.

Shen Danyang, spokesman at the Ministry of Commerce, said at a regular news conference Tuesday that exporters in the world's second-largest economy would probably have another tough year.

"Looking into next year, the global economic situation will continue to be complicated and uncertain, world growth is expected to remain low and trade protectionism in various forms is likely to strengthen," he said.

"Therefore... there is no reason for optimism about China's foreign trade environment and barriers that could keep foreign trade growth from rising steadily remain big."

Shen said that trade friction between the world's largest exporter and its major trade partners intensified this year, noting there have been 53 trade probes against China in 2012 worth US$24.2 billion.

Last year, China came under 69 trade investigations worth US$5.9 billion, according to previous government figures.