Wal-Mart vice chairman Michael Duke announced the company’s China procurement for 2008 would remain steady at 2007’s US$9 billion despite a rising yuan, higher inflation and product safety concerns, AP reported. Duke also told reporters in Beijing Monday that China would remain a major source of Wal-Mart goods "for a long time," adding that concerns would be offset by improved productivity. The announcement was seen as good news for Chinese exporters as the yuan’s rise against the dollar and higher inflation on the mainland has made their goods more expensive in the US. China’s trade surplus with the US shrank by 6.7% to US$12.1 billion in January on weak US demand. The head of the Asia Footwear Association said rising costs have forced about 15% of China’s shoe manufacturers to shut down or relocate in the past year.