Speaking before Chinese and foreign reporters on the sidelines of the ongoing National People’s Congress on March 7, Chen Deming, China’s trade minister, stressed the challenges ahead. Beset by global economic troubles, rising domestic labor costs, and tightening at home, China’s growth in exports may reach 7 percent this year, with imports up slightly more, year on year, compared with the 20.3 percent and 24.9 percent jumps in 2011. China will likely achieve this year’s overall trade growth target, said Chen, but only with “arduous efforts.”
The euro zone crisis weighs heavily on Chinese trade policy makers. Since Europe is the mainland’s largest trading partner and accounts for 18 percent of all Chinese exports, according to Shenyin & Wanguo Securities, problems there will continue to constrain China’s sales abroad. Chen said today that exports rose about 7 percent in January and February combined, over the previous year. That figure suggests February exports, due to be announced on March 10, will come in lower than the 32 percent gain shown in an earlier Bloomberg survey.