Surplus now tipped to be US$180b
The Ministry of Commerce has further revised up its forecast on the mainland's trade surplus this year to US$180 billion amid a general slowdown in foreign trade.
Meeting exporters at the twice-a-year China Import and Export Fair at Guangzhou in the past three days, Commerce Minister Chen Deming said the surplus would be larger than the ministry had anticipated, according to Guangzhou-based daily 21st Century Business Herald.
The latest forecast compares with a US$150 billion estimate in August and the target of US$100 billion the ministry set in January.
A Ministry of Commerce spokesman declined to confirm the latest forecast yesterday, but said the surplus would be lower than last year's US$196 billion. Economists widely expected the surplus would dwindle in the final quarter of this year after it fell 10.5 per cent to US$120.6 billion in the first nine months of the year on weaker growth in exports and a higher base of comparison last year.
They added that a stronger yuan helped drag down exports.
'The surplus will be slightly smaller,' said UBS economist Wang Tao, whose forecast was the same as the ministry's latest forecast.
Morgan Stanley chief economist Wang Qing, who forecast the full-year surplus will hit US$160 billion, said imports would be increased by a string of government initiatives, including lower import tax, relaxing import quotas and a pilot programme that allowed 60 selected exporters to keep their export revenue abroad.
China International Capital economist Peng Wensheng said growth in the mainland's exports would be 'pulled back sharply' in the final three months of the year weighed down by weak recovery in the US, the nation's largest export market, and the legacy of the debt crisis and reduction in fiscal spending in Europe, its second-largest market.
But he said the recent strength of imports would spill into the rest of the year fuelled by strong domestic demand for big-ticket items.