The Chinese government is targeting export growth of about 7.5 percent in 2014, three people with direct knowledge of the matter said, setting sights lower than last year’s pace.
The goal, based on the U.S. dollar value of sales, has been distributed to economy-related ministries and local governments to serve as an internal guideline for planning, said the people, who asked not to be named as they aren’t authorized to speak to the media. Overseas shipments rose 7.9 percent in 2013, according to official data, as the government targeted 8 percent growth in exports and imports combined.
The target may reflect Ministry of Commerce concerns last month that trade growth won’t be faster than in 2013 amid an unstable global recovery. The strength of exports will help determine the pace of expansion in the world’s second biggest economy that analysts see slowing to a 24-year low of 7.4 percent this year.
“As the European and U.S. economies show signs of warming up, uncertainties remain for China’s export outlook, such as the recent turmoil in emerging markets,” said Liu Xuezhi, a Shanghai-based analyst with Bank of Communications Co., China’s fifth-largest lender.
Concern about the U.S. Federal Reserve’s stimulus cuts, China’s slowdown and volatility in developing markets spurred a global rout that wiped as much as $3 trillion from equities this year.
China’s exports grew a faster-than-estimated 10.6 percent in January from a year earlier, customs administration data showed yesterday, a pace that may be distorted by false invoices and the Lunar New Year holiday.
The State Council Information Office didn’t immediately respond to faxed questions from Bloomberg News. China doesn’t normally publish a target for export growth alone. Instead, the government provides the goal for combined exports and imports at the annual gathering of the National People’s Congress in March.
The legislature’s meeting also typically sees the release of the year’s national expansion target. Caixin, a Chinese financial news provider, reported in December that government plans a 7.5 percent growth target for 2014, which would be the same goal as in 2012 and 2013.
Passenger-vehicle sales in China last month rose less than analysts estimated, a report showed today, adding to signs that the economy is slowing. Wholesale deliveries of cars, multipurpose vehicles and SUVs climbed 7 percent from a year earlier to 1.8 million units, the state-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said. That’s the weakest growth since sales fell in February 2013.
The export goal contrasts with the view of UBS AG economists led by Wang Tao in Hong Kong, who said in a report yesterday that they see export gains “accelerating modestly” to 10 percent this year, propelled by recoveries in the U.S. and Europe.
Shen Danyang, a Commerce Ministry spokesman, said at a briefing last month that while the trade situation is grim and complicated, he’s also “cautiously optimistic” about the outlook. Some small and medium-sized exporters face difficulties from rising costs, Shen said.
Export figures last year were exaggerated as companies falsified documents to disguise capital flows, and the customs administration hasn’t publicly revised any data. Louis Kuijs, chief China economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in Hong Kong, estimated last month that the practice inflated China’s 2013 export gains by about 2 percentage points.
Hua Changchun, an economist with Nomura Holdings Inc. in Hong Kong, said the 7.5 percent target may take into consideration an “inflated base” from 2013. “In general, it shows the government’s willingness to see a stable export sector this year,” Hua said.
Last year’s increase in exports and a 7.3 percent expansion in imports helped China claim the title of the world’s biggest trader of goods, passing the U.S. with more than $4 trillion of commerce. China already ranked No. 1 in goods exports in 2012.
A strengthening yuan has put pressure on China’s exporters. The currency has risen about 2.8 percent against the dollar in the past 12 months, the most among 24 emerging-market currencies tracked by Bloomberg. The yuan weakened today for a third straight day to 6.0636 per dollar.
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