Market, not government, causes China's trade surplus: official
China's soaring trade surplus is largely due to slumping prices in imports, and the big trade gap was not intentional, a commerce official said on Friday.
"The government encourages imports," Vice Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said at a press conference, adding that the market should not read too much into the trade surplus numbers.
Denominated in Chinese yuan, exports increased 4.9 percent last year, while imports fell 0.6 percent as sliding global oil and commodities prices reduced import costs.
The foreign trade surplus widened to 45.9 percent year on year, or 2.35 trillion yuan, official figures showed.
Zhong said the surplus in goods trade was due to made-in-China products being strong competitively in the global market. However, in terms of service trade, China posted a huge deficit.
The detailed figures reflect the respective competitiveness of China's manufacturing and services sectors in the global market, said the trade official.
Therefore, the trade surplus is a result of market competition, rather than government intervention, Zhong said.
At the press conference, Zhong reiterated China's stance on its opposition to trade protectionism and its preference for consultation and negotiation to settle trade friction.
Zhong said China had faced rising trade friction in recent years. As the economy grows and Chinese products' competitiveness improves, trade disputes involving China will continue to rise.
But China will continue to adopt an open attitude to the issues and strengthen exchanges and cooperation with other countries, as a healthy and sustainable trade environment serves all parties' interests, Zhong said.