China’s exports face a "hard and tortuous" road to recovery with the trade surplus expected to fall to US$180 billion to US$190 billion this year from a record $295.5 billion in 2008 as the health of the global economy remains uncertain, Reuters reported, citing Commerce Minister Chen Deming. The surplus was $136.4 billion for the January – September period. Exports in September were down 15.2% year-on-year, with the government expecting a double-digit fall for the whole of 2009. China’s economic recovery has relied largely on government spending to boost domestic demand, with imports showing greater improvement than exports in recent months. The ministry of commerce on its website cited protectionism and increased competition as causes of the decline in exports.