China's trade surplus diminished sharply by more than 80 percent, year-on-year in September, moving towards a balanced trade relation with other countries and regions in the world.
Statistics from the General Administration of Customs Wednesday indicated that the country only recorded a US$290 million trade surplus in its foreign trade in September, down from last September's US$2.12 billion, while the trade surplus in August was US$2.79 billion with a 26 percent year-on-year growth.
The total foreign trade of the world's most populous country reached US$606 billion in the first nine months, rising 36.3 percent.
China sold US$308 billion worth of goods and services to other parts of the world, growing 32.3 percent, while its imports grew by 40.5 percent to US$299 billion in the period.
"People's minds are changing from purely pursuing big numbers in trade surpluses to achieving a balanced and healthy trade relation,'' said Song Hong, a researcher with the Institute of World Economics and Politics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
He pointed out that the fact that import growth overtaking export growth has become a trend since China's entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001.
He explained that as China has been lifting import restrictions and opening its market to other countries and regions, the growth of imports has become rapid.
At the same time, since many foreign-invested companies gain rights to sell products locally, they tend to import more raw materials but sell finished products in China, which also increases China's imports and reduces exports, Song added.
He said the result would be a help to ease pressure from the United States to some extent.
Figures from the United States Department of Commerce showed last week that its trade deficit with China had reached a record high of US$11.7 billion. The Chinese official figure was US$5.8 billion.
There is usually a big difference between the figures of the two countries, due to different statistical methods.
Thomas Donohoe, chairman and chief executive officer of the US Chamber of Commerce, was impressed by the increasing growth of imports in China.
"I am pleased that June-August numbers are achieving better growth rates,'' he said at a press conference Wednesday.
"Our hope is that the table will be balanced and China will purchase more products and services from the United States.''
Wan Jifei, chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said that a large portion of Chinese exports to the United States were actually made by US-invested companies in China.
He also called for the US government to lift restrictions on the exports of high-tech products.
"We want to have more high-tech products and services, but it seems that the United States has a very tight control on exporting (those products) to China,'' Wan said.
The chambers of commerce of the two countries held their first annual US-China Business Dialogue in Beijing on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss economic and trade issues between the two countries.
(China Daily October 16, 2003)