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Sunday, 10 February, 2002, 11:34 GMT
Global weakness hits China's exports
China's Lunar New Year celebrations
Lunar New Year celebrations disrupted trade last year
The latest member of the World Trade Organisation, China, has reported a 25.7% rise in trade in January compared with a year earlier.

Exports rose almost 30% to about $22bn (15.5bn), faster than imports which rose 22% to almost $19bn, according to the Xinhua news agency.

But the strong figures conceal a dramatic flattening of the trade growth rate.

In 2001, China's exports grew by just 6.8%, markedly lower than the 27.8% growth rate in 2000.

Disruptive festival

The rise in trade in January this year compared with last year should not be taken too seriously, Xinhua warned.

In January 2001, trade was interrupted by China's important week-long Lunar New Year festival.

This year, the Lunar New Year will fall on 12 February.

"This makes a big difference in foreign trade volume," the agency said, adding that real growth in trade was 10% after discounting for the holiday.

World economy

China's latest trade figures were released ahead of President George W Bush's planned visit to Beijing on 21 February.

Trade relations between China and the rest of the world have recently improved dramatically, but the weak US and global economies have prevented the country from taking full advantage of the renewed openness.

China hopes that although exports could be weak this year, foreign investment should help make up for the foreign earnings shortfall.

Joint ventures between Chinese and foreign firms are becoming increasingly common.

Typically, foreign firms have the cash while the Chinese firms have access to this huge market.

See also:

07 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
China admits jobs crisis
28 Jan 02 | Business
Chinese auditors deny bank fraud
31 Dec 01 | Business
China's economy 'overtakes Italy's'
11 Dec 01 | Business
China joins the WTO - at last
12 Dec 01 | Media reports
Intense debate over China WTO entry
11 Nov 01 | Business
Taiwan joins China in WTO
07 Nov 01 | Business
East Asian pact trades up
10 Dec 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: China
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