China eyes more imports, balanced trade

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BEIJING, Mar 24 (Reuters) China will boost imports by exploring ways to encourage firms to buy more foreign goods and urging developed countries to ditch curbs on high-tech exports, a senior official said in remarks published on Friday.

To help iron out trade imbalances, the authorities would encourage imports of unspecified major products and explore new policies to promote the purchase by Chinese firms of imported raw materials and natural resources, the head of the Commerce Ministry's trade section was quoted as saying.

In the medium to longer term, China would adopt measures to expand domestic demand and press developed countries like the United States and European countries to lift restrictions on high-tech exports, the Economic Daily quoted Lu Jianhua as saying.

Such a step was ''absolutely necessary to reduce China's trade surplus with the United States and Europe,'' Lu said.

Lu's remarks reiterated earlier government statements.

The U.S. trade deficit with China was nearly 2 billion last year. China, which does not include Hong Kong in its figures, put last year's trade surplus with the United States at 4.2 billion.

Some U.S. manufacturers and law-makers, including two senators who have been visiting China this week, say China's yuan currency is so undervalued it gives Chinese products an unfair advantage in U.S. markets, costing millions of American jobs.

China revalued the currency by 2.1 percent last July, but Washington wants Beijing to speed up moves towards greater currency flexibility to help bring down China's trade surplus with the United States.

Reuters DH VP0725

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