China trade deficit likely in March

March 22, 2010 at 7:26 AM
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BEIJING, March 22 (UPI) -- China, which has been building huge trade surpluses in recent years, will likely see a deficit in March due to surging imports, its commerce minister said.

Speaking at a China development seminar in Beijing, Chen Deming warned the Chinese government will "fight back" if the United States labeled Beijing a currency manipulator, the China Daily reported.

"I believe there will be a trade deficit in March," Chen said.

China is facing intense international pressure to let its artificially undervalued yuan to appreciate. It's current status is seen by experts as giving the country an unfair advantage. A lower yuan allows China to run huge trade surpluses by making its exports cheaper.

China is fighting to prevent the U.S. Treasury Department from designating it as a currency manipulator in a report due next month because that would allow Washington to impose duties on Chinese imports.

"China's trade surplus with the United States has been turned into a key excuse by American economists to pressurize the Chinese government to revalue the yuan" even though the surpluses have been declining lately, Chen said.

"It's not rational (for China) to revalue the yuan, as it would hurt both Chinese exporters and American consumers," he said.

China's exports have been growing at an annual 20 percent rate in the past three decades, even though the yuan cumulatively had appreciated 21 percent against the U.S. dollar between July 2005 and July 2008.

Some economists have said the yuan needs to appreciate far more.

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