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Last Updated: Monday, 13 February 2006, 09:51 GMT
China retail sales 'to rise 11%'
Shoppers in Shanghai
Chinese retail spending is cantered on the big eastern cities
Chinese retail spending is expected to grow by more than 11% per year to reach 10 trillion yuan ($1.2 trillion; 680bn) in 2010, Beijing predicts.

The figure comes as the government is trying to boost domestic spending in a bid to offset the economy's continuing over-reliance upon exports.

Domestic retail spending now accounts for some 33% of Chinese spending, way below the 80% figure seen in the US.

China's trade surplus rose by 47% to $9.49bn in January, Beijing said.

Booming big cities

The 10 trillion yuan target for domestic Chinese retail spending was given by assistant commerce minister Huang Hai in an interview with the state-run China Daily newspaper.

Certainly China is making efforts to increase its imports, especially from the US
Citigroup economist Huang Yiping

Retail spending in the country rose 12.9% in 2005 to 6.7 trillion yuan.

Spending is predicted to increase further as household incomes continue to rise, especially in booming big eastern cities such as the capital Beijing and Shanghai.

By contrast, the government has warned more needs to be done to increase wages in rural areas.

US antagonism

China's imports in January totalled $55.5bn, up 25.4%, while exports rose 28.1% to $64.9bn, said the Ministry of Commerce.

The country's growing trade surplus has caused antagonism in the West, particularly from the US, which has accused Beijing of unfair practices.

Washington has claimed that China keeps its currency artificially low to give Chinese exports a significant price advantage.

Beijing has repeatedly said it intends to increase the value of the yuan, but only at a slow pace so as not to upset the Chinese economy.

Last year, the country reformed the way the yuan is valued, it is now allowed to rise or fall by 0.3% a day against a basket of other currencies, including the Japanese yen and the UK pound.

Citigroup economist Huang Yiping predicts that China will make additional moves to placate the US when President Hu Jintao visits in April.

"Certainly China is making efforts to increase its imports, especially from the US," said Mr Huang.

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