China pessimistic about trade outlook

BEIJING (AP) — China’s government is pessimistic about its export outlook this year amid global economic turmoil, a Commerce Ministry spokesman said Wednesday.

Demand for Chinese goods is under pressure from Europe’s debt crisis and global economic uncertainty, while rising costs are hurting exporters’ profits, said spokesman Shen Danyang at a news briefing.

Shen gave no forecast for monthly trade but noted that export growth has fallen steadily this year, hitting 15.9 percent in October. That was down from this year’s peak of 36 percent in March.

“We cannot be optimistic about our country’s export conditions in the near future,” Shen said.

Shen also rejected complaints that Beijing’s exchange rate controls are swelling China’s trade surplus. The United States and other governments complain China’s yuan is undervalued, giving its exporters an unfair price advantage and hurting foreign competitors and efforts to revive global growth.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the World Trade Organization, prompted by complaints about China, is preparing to examine whether trade rules can be used to penalize countries that manipulate exchange rates for trade advantage.

Shen said he had not seen that report but said Commerce Minister Chen Deming rejected suggestions the yuan is undervalued in meetings with U.S. and other officials at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum this week in Hawaii.

“Right now the renminbi is at a reasonable level,” Shen said, referring to the currency by its official name. “The renminbi is not the main reason that causes the U.S.-Chinese trade imbalance.”

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