China official pessimistic on exports in 2012

BEIJING (AP) — China intends to focus on expanding exports to emerging markets and enhancing its competitiveness, given the bleak outlook for global trade and its own rising costs, a senior commerce official said Wednesday.

Wang Shouwen, director general for foreign trade for the Ministry of Commerce, told a news conference that he does not expect a rebound in demand next year from international markets, and Europe in particular.

China’s economic growth is partly tied to the United States and Europe, which are major markets for the toys, clothing and electronics churned out by its countless factories.

Wang said China will continue to face rising domestic costs for labor, land and raw materials. The appreciation of the yuan, China’s currency, will add to that pressure, he said. A stronger yuan makes China’s exports less competitive in overseas markets.

“Next year we will face severe challenges,” Wang said. “But we’ve noted that there are currently some developing and emerging economies that are doing relatively well with sound economic performance, so we will attach more importance to these markets next year.”

“If the European financial crisis doesn’t run out of control, we should be able to achieve a considerable level of growth in foreign trade,” he said.

Wang didn’t list any specific emerging markets but said China was hopeful of demand for its products from countries in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa and Central Asia.

He said China would also boost support for homegrown enterprises in brand building, research and development, design and marketing to help them step up their competitiveness.

Wang was one of several officials briefing reporters on the release of a ministry report on trade, which said China had made progress in rebalancing its trade away from the huge surpluses of the past, while fostering dynamism that has contributed to the global economy.

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