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China faces 'severe' trade situation: minister
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) June 11, 2012

OECD sees activity slowing in China, India
Paris (AFP) June 11, 2012 - Economic activity indicators in emerging China and India are showing signs of slowing as sluggish activity in France and Italy continues to drag down the eurozone, the OECD said on Monday.

The composite index of leading indicators, a strong guide to coming economic performance, continues "to point to divergence between economies" worldwide, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said.

"The assessment for China and India has changed significantly since last month," the OECD said, with the indicators pointing towards activity below long-term trend.

Meanwhile indicators for Japan, Russia and the United States still show an improvement, although with "tentative signs that growth may moderate in the near term," the OECD said.

In the eurozone, while indicators for France and Italy continue to point to sluggish activity, Germany and the currency bloc as a whole were only slightly below long-term trend.

The OECD, which groups the world's most developed countries, said Brazilian data pointed towards a turning point, with economic activity improving to nearer long-term trend but with a weaker intensity.

China's commerce minister said in comments published Monday that the country faces a "severe" trade situation this year, as the Asian powerhouse continues to feel the pinch of global economic woes.

"Foreign trade still faces quite a severe situation going forward," Chen Deming said in a brief statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency and posted on the central government's website.

But he said that "with luck", China would still achieve 10 percent growth in foreign trade -- which combines imports and exports -- as per predictions made earlier this year.

The forecast growth for the year ahead is far slower than the 22.5 percent growth achieved in 2011, as the debt crisis in Europe -- China's biggest export market -- rages on.

Official data released on Sunday showed exports rose 15.3 percent on-year in May to $181.1 billion and imports grew 12.7 percent to $162.4 billion, slightly widening the trade surplus for the third consecutive month to $18.7 billion.

However, the better-than-expected trade figures failed to downplay concerns that the world's second largest economy is slowing, after China put in a poor economic performance in May.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last month said greater priority should be given to growth, which slowed to 8.1 percent in the first quarter of 2012 year-on-year -- its slowest pace in nearly three years.

Authorities have been easing monetary policy for some time in an effort to stimulate growth, cutting the amount of money banks are required to keep in reserve three times since December last year.

On Friday, the central bank also cut interest rates for the first time in more than three years and allowed banks more flexibility to set rates, introducing greater competition in the market.


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China exports, imports rise sharply
Beijing (AFP) June 10, 2012
China's exports and imports shot up in May, but analysts cautioned the better-than-expected data released Sunday was no cause for joy amid global economic woes and a slowdown in the Asian powerhouse. The strong figures come after China put in a poor economic performance in May and concerned policymakers cut interest rates for the first time in more than three years, as they look to spur grow ... read more

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