Foreign trade could rise by more than 12% this year to US$1.6 trillion, the Ministry of Commerce has said. But increasing imports and export pressure is likely to see China's trade surplus fall on the US$101.88 billion recorded for 2005, according to Li Yushi, vice-president of the ministry's Research Institute of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation. "Given no major changes in the international market, China will likely limit its trade surplus to within US$50 billion this year," he said. The country's foreign trade volume hit US$1.42 trillion last year, a 23.2% rise on 2004, while a US$23.3 billion trade surplus was recorded for the first quarter of 2006, up 41.1% on the same period in 2005. Chinese companies exported US$197.3 billion worth of goods in the first quarter, up 26.6% year on year, and imported US$174 billion worth of goods, up 24.8%. Liu Haiquan, vice-director of the Ministry of Commerce's Planning and Financial Affairs Division, said the trade surpluses would continue but that China faces pressure from calls for more balanced foreign trade, rising global interest rates and increasing resource prices.