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China's trade surplus triples in 2005

Associated Press
Published January 12, 2006

SHANGHAI, China - China's trade surplus surged to $101.9-billion in 2005, more than triple the $32-billion gap recorded the year before, according to customs figures released Wednesday.

Exports rose 28.4 percent year-on-year in 2005 to $762-billion, while imports rose 17.6 percent to $660-billion, the General Administration of Customs said in a report posted on its Web site.

With global trade of $1.42-trillion, China is now the world's third-biggest trading nation, the report said. China had said it had overtaken Japan in terms of merchandise trade and remained behind the United States and Germany.

The figures were largely in line with expectations, but they were likely to intensify pressure for Beijing to loosen foreign exchange controls that U.S. officials and other critics contend keep the Chinese currency, the yuan, undervalued, making Chinese exports relatively cheap in overseas markets.

A leading U.S. lawmaker, Sen. Max Baucus, said during a visit to Beijing that he had warned senior Chinese officials the persisting trade imbalance with the U.S. was bound to draw a backlash.

"The imbalance simply exists. It's there. It's a fact, and it has to be dealt with. And it is a major irritant in U.S.-China relations," said Baucus, D-Mont., a member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. "It is in China's interest to make concrete progress in reducing the trade imbalance."

China's trade surplus with the United States in 2005 is forecast to top $200-billion, up nearly 25 percent from the record high surplus in 2004. The report issued Wednesday gave no breakdown for imports and exports with the United States and other major trading partners.

It said China's biggest trading partner was the EU, with two-way trade estimated at $217.3-billion, up 22.6 percent from the year before.

[Last modified January 12, 2006, 01:21:24]

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