China recorded a trade surplus of US$22.5bn in 2001, down from US$24.1bn in 2000. The country’s trade volume rose 7.5 per cent to exceed US$500bn for the first time. In December, exports rose by 11.5 per cent. Analysts quoted by Reuters said the December upturn was the result of a government initiative to step up payment of tax rebates and tentative signs of a recovery in the US.
The Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation, Shi Guangsheng, hailed China’s successful foreign trade per formance against a background of a declining world economy and recession in the US and Japan. However, the country is braced for slower growth in 2002. Xu Hongyuan, an economist at the State Information Centre think-tank, predicted 3-5 per cent export growth this year.
However, imports should be boosted by lower tariff rates following China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation. Average tariff levels will be lowered to 12 per cent by the end of this year, from 15.3 per cent at the end of 2001.
China’s first company dedicated to providing companies with export credit insurance has been established. China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation aims to encourage exports by providing protection against potential losses. The new company, also known as SinoSure, was created from the merger of the export credit operations of the People’s Insurance Co of China and the Import and Export Bank of China. It is wholly-owned by the Ministry of Finance and has a registered capital of Yn4bn.