China's gross domestic product rose 8.1% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2002. The performance was slightly better than expectations and meant that the economy in the first nine months of the year grew by 7.9% to Yn7,168bn. Even if the rate of growth slows in the final quarter, the country is still likely to beat the 7.3% increase recorded last year. China's continued impressive performance owes much to the government's spending programme, which is set to continue next year. Fixed asset investment rose 22% in the first nine months to Yn2,580bn, although this was 2.6 per cent down on the first half of the year. Another important factor was China's strong trade performance. Exports in the first nine months totalled US$232.6bn, 19% more than in the same period of 2001, while imports rose 17 per cent to US$212.6bn, according to Chinese customs figures. However the trade minister Shi Guangsheng warned that several negative factors loomed over next year, including a turbulent geopolitical structure, the precarious nature of the US economy and the increased use of trade barriers by other nations. He called on Chinese companies to hone their competitiveness, seek new markets and make better use of the foreign capital coming into China.