BEIJING - A slowdown in the country´s export growth could continue at least into the first quarter of next year with a "more severe" outlook, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.
But the government has confidence in keeping stable growth in foreign trade, said ministry spokesman Shen Danyang at a monthly news briefing.
With demand weakening from the European Union, China´s largest trade partner, overseas sales have been on the decline. In November, the nation´s exports increased by 13.8 percent from a year earlier, the smallest gain since 2009, according to the General Administration of Customs.
And things will probably get worse. "China may see negative export growth next year in some months although shipments for the year could rise 10 percent if there´s no world recession," said Yu Bin, director of macroeconomic research at the State Council´s Development Research Center.
"It´s too early to predict the prospects of export for the whole year of 2012, but one thing is for sure, the first quarter will be very severe for China´s exports," said Shen.
Besides shrinking worldwide demand, trade protectionist measures of various types are challenging Chinese exporters. On Thursday, the European Union imposed five-year tariffs as high as 71.9 percent on imports of steel pipes from China.
According to Shen, new measures to help China maintain export growth will be released during the annual China commerce work conference, to be held in early January.
The three-day Central Economic Work Conference, which closed on Wednesday, pointed out China will try to stabilize growth for exports next year, by stabilizing its foreign trade policies and promoting industrial transformation.
On Tuesday, China approved 59 export bases, focusing on upgrading their goods and services, investing more in research and development and sharpening their competitiveness.
"If proper measures could be taken, including developing new products and new markets and investing more in design, Chinese exporters could turn the crises into opportunities," said Shen.
The Central Economic Work Conference said China will try to balance trade through expanding imports.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Finance said that from 2012 China will reduce import taxes for 730 categories of goods including energy resources, parts and components of strategic emerging industries and daily necessities that could promote consumption.
"China´s trade surplus for 2011 will probably stay at $150 billion," compared with more than $180 billion last year, predicted Shen.