Houston Community News >> China Rising to World No. 1

4/12/2007-- GERMANY retained its place as the world's largest exporter in 2006, according to a World Trade Organisation report published today, but China is gaining rapidly and actually surpassed the second placed United States in the latter half of the year.

Export growth from China boomed by 27 per cent last year, outpacing all other major trading nations, the WTO said in releasing its first batch of global trade statistics for 2006.

While China finished behind Germany and the United States in total exports for the full year, it overtook the United States in the last six months of 2006 and will almost certainly finish above the US in the 2007 totals.

At current growth rates, China is projected to overtake Germany as the world's biggest exporter in 2008.

Germany retains considerable export strength in chemicals, machinery, vehicles, machine tools, electronics, food and beverages, shipbuilding and textiles. It especially excels in hi-tech products and its reputation for quality has not diminished.

"China's merchandise trade expansion remained outstandingly strong," the WTO said in its 21-page report.

"Office and telecom equipment continued to be the mainstay of Chinese export growth, but significant gains in world market shares in 2006 could be observed in traditional exports such as clothing and new products such as iron and steel."

The WTO report comes at a time of rising tension between China and the US and some of the findings will surely fuel debate that Beijing's trade policies are preventing American goods from entering its vast market. US critics accuse the Chinese economy of benefiting from an undervalued currency, illegal government subsidies, unfair barriers to foreign competition and widespread piracy.

The WTO report said China's imports rose 20 per cent last year to $792 billion - a surge that was "faster than global trade but continued to lag behind export growth."

The commerce body partly attributed the weaker import figures to lower oil prices, but did not cite any other factors.

Since 2000, China has more than doubled its share in world merchandise exports to 8 per cent.

Overall real goods trade throughout the world achieved 8 per cent growth in 2006, the highest in six years, the report said. High prices for fuels and metals meant the trade expansion was 15 per cent when measured in monetary terms, reaching $11.76 trillion.

"The strong performance in 2006 is welcome, particularly the gains made by developing and least-developed countries," Pascal Lamy, the director-general of the WTO said.

The world's poorest countries boosted their trade by about 30 per cent, fuelled by sales of petroleum and other basic commodities.

(Courtesy of Scotsman.com)