State-owned firms left behind as dependence on US grows
The imports and exports of foreign-invested joint ventures in the mainland exceeded those of state companies last year for the first time, while the country's dependence on the United States as an export market increased.
Figures released yesterday showed imports and exports of joint ventures reached US$174.5 billion, an increase of 10.7 per cent over 1998 and accounting for 48.4 per cent of the national total, up from 39 per cent in 1995.
Exports were $88.63 billion, up 9.5 per cent from 1998 and accounting for 45.5 per cent of the national total. The net increase of $7.69 billion during the year accounted for 70 per cent of the growth for exports as a whole. Their imports were $85.88 billion, an increase of 11.9 per cent.
The figures indicate the increasing importance of joint ventures to the mainland's export drive. They also show that foreign-invested firms are better able to compete in the global market than state-owned companies.
Many joint ventures were set up to produce exports, with companies relocating plants from Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and other countries to take advantage of the mainland's cheap land and labour.
Last year was a good trade year for the mainland. It posted its third-biggest surplus on record, with growth in major markets, despite the effects of the Asian financial crisis and the fact that it did not devalue its currency, like many of its Asian competitors.
It recorded a trade surplus of $29.2 billion, on exports of $194.93 billion, up 6.1 per cent on 1998, and imports of $165.71 billion, up 18.2 per cent.
The mainland's reliance on the US as an export market continued to grow. Exports last year were $41.94 billion, an increase of 10.5 per cent, and accounting for 21.5 per cent of total exports, up from 18.5 per cent in 1993.
Its trade surplus with the US was $22.4 billion, with imports rising 15.7 per cent to $19.53 billion. US figures show a substantially higher surplus because they include mainland goods shipped through other places, principally Hong Kong.
The US was the mainland's second-biggest trading partner, after Japan and ahead of the European Union. Trade with Japan was $66.16 billion, an increase of 14.2 per cent over 1998, with the US at $61.42 billion, up 12 per cent, and with the EU $55.7 billion, up 13.9 per cent.