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Last Updated: Friday, 11 January 2008, 06:59 GMT
China's trade surplus jumps 48%
Yangshan deep water port in Shanghai
China has introduced measures to cool exports
China's trade surplus soared 48% in 2007 to a record high as its export-led economic boom continued, government figures have shown.

The gap between what China exports and imports expanded to $262.2bn (134bn) last year.

The latest big annual rise in the surplus may increase pressure on China to allow the yuan to rise in value.

The US in particular accuses China of keeping the yuan undervalued to keep Chinese exports cheap.

The smaller December surplus is largely welcome, and it presents a modest argument for the Chinese government that their efforts to reduce the trade balance are beginning to work
Jun Ma, chief China economist at Deutsche Bank

China counters that it is moving towards allowing the yuan to trade more freely, but says it can only move slowly on the issue for fear of derailing its export-dominated economic growth.

The West has also called for China to move faster on opening up its domestic market to foreign investment.

Safety scares

The country's trade surplus with the US expanded 19% to $163bn last year, while its surplus with the European Union grew even faster, up 46% to $134.3bn.

Overall, Chinese exports grew 25.7% to $1.2 trillion in 2007, while the level of imports increased to $955.8bn.

The continuing surge in its exports came despite a number of product safety scares last year, over everything from children's toys to toothpaste and clothing items.

China's December's monthly trade surplus was $22.7bn, up 9.5% from a year earlier, but below October's $27bn record.

Beijing has introduced measures to cool exports because of continuing fears that its economy may be overheating. These policies have included export taxes on goods such as steel.

"The smaller December surplus is largely welcome, and it presents a modest argument for the Chinese government that their efforts to reduce the trade balance are beginning to work," said Jun Ma, chief China economist at Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong.



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