Trade be­tween China and United States to take front seat

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By JING SHUIYU and LI XIANG jing­shuiyu@chi­

The United States is ex­pected to over­take the Euro­pean Union as China’s largest trade part­ner this year, a for­mer vice-min­is­ter of com­merce said.

At the same time, China’s trade struc­ture will con­tinue to op­ti­mize, and pri­vate com­pa­nies are likely to dom­i­nate the ex­port sec­tor, Wei Jian­guo, who is also vice-pres­i­dent of the China Cen­ter for In­ter­na­tional Eco­nomic Ex­changes, told China Daily in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view.

Sino-US trade will con­tinue to boom in the sec­ond half of this year, “with China’s im­ports from the US grow­ing faster than its ex­ports”. There­fore, the US trade deficit with China will de­cline, he said.

Part of the rea­son why the US would sur­pass the EU, which was China’s num­ber one trad­ing part­ner for al­most the past decade, Wei said, lies in ever-strength­en­ing Sino-US eco­nomic and trade ties.

In April, China and the US agreed to ini­ti­ate a co­op­er­a­tion plan to ad­dress the trade im­bal­ance. Un­der the plan, China will re­sume US beef im­ports, and al­low rice im­ports for the first time.

Wei’s pre­dic­tions are in line with re­cent in­dus­try fig­ures.

Be­tween Jan­uary and June, Sino-US trade reached 1.85 tril­lion yuan ($272 bil­lion), up 21.3 per­cent year-on-year, ac­cord­ing to the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cus­toms. The growth rate is higher than that be­tween China and EU mem­bers, which stood at 17.4 per­cent in the same pe­riod. Sino-EU trade was 1.97 tril­lion yuan.

“With such a growth rate, it won’t take long for China’s to­tal trade vol­ume with the US to ex­ceed that with EU mem­bers”, said Wei.

China’s to­tal trade vol­ume was 13.14 tril­lion yuan in the first six months, up 19.6 per­cent year-on-year, ac­cord­ing to the GAC. Specif­i­cally, ex­ports grew by 15.0 per­cent to 7.21 tril­lion yuan, and im­ports surged 25.7 per­cent to 5.93 tril­lion yuan.

Huang Song­ping, a spokesman for the GAC, said ear­lier that the in­crease was mainly due to re­cov­er­ing ex­ter­nal de­mand that pushed up ex­ports.

Look­ing into the over­all pic­ture in the sec­ond half of this year, Wei said China’s trade would still gain mo­men­tum.

“The growth rate of China’s trade with economies along the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive would be 5 to 6 per­cent­age points higher than other re­gions.”

Of­fi­cial data show trade be­tween China and Belt and Road economies posted dou­ble-digit growth year-on-year in the first six months.

Pri­vately run com­pa­nies, even some small and mi­cro busi­nesses, would dom­i­nate the trade sec­tor, with more high-tech prod­ucts and self­owned brands be­ing ex­ported, Wei added.

In the first six months, pri­vate com­pa­nies’ im­ports and ex­ports grew 20.6 per­cent yearon-year to 5.02 tril­lion yuan, show data from the GAC. It ac­counted for 38.2 per­cent of the na­tion’s to­tal vol­ume.

“The cur­rent do­mes­tic and for­eign en­vi­ron­ment is fa­vor­able to fu­ture trade flows … But it is still an ar­du­ous tasks to main­tain the up­trend for the rest of the year,” Qian Kem­ing, a vice-min­is­ter of com­merce, said on Mon­day at a news con­fer­ence.

Qian cited trade pro­tec­tion­ism and ris­ing costs as the ma­jor fac­tors.

Wei Jian­guo, for­mer vice-min­is­ter of com­merce

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