The minister said factors such as higher imports of high-tech products, green technology and iron ore, along with efforts to cut import tariffs, could even produce a deficit for a few months this year, China Daily reported.
"The surplus will further drop in 2011," Chen said. "While export growth will decelerate, import growth will accelerate."
Chen, who spoke to reporters at the annual session of the National People's Congress, said China will not substantially boost grain imports to prevent volatility in global markets. China's main grain growing regions have been hit by a prolonged drought.
Official figures show China has been experiencing a decline in its trade surplus in recent years, with slower growth of exports and rising imports, blamed on weaker global demand and rising commodity prices.
The 2010 trade surplus totaled $183.1 billion, down 6.4 percent year-on-year. The 2009 surplus of $196.1 billion was down 34 percent, and in January of this year, the surplus fell 53.5 percent to $6.46 billion from the same month of last year.
Trade analyst Zhou Shijian told China Daily the country's commitment to boost imports to balance trade is a wise move as it will help reduce friction with other nations.
In the next three years, China plans to exempt import tariffs on more than 95 percent of categories of goods from the least-developed nations, Chen said.
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