China's external environment poses serious challenges to trade - commerce minister

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[1/3] Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao speaks at a news conference in Beijing, China March 2, 2023. REUTERS/Florence Lo

BEIJING, March 2 (Reuters) - Pressure on China's imports and exports will increase significantly this year, Wang Wentao, commerce minister, told a news conference on Thursday, three days before the annual meeting of parliament.

The risk of a global recession is growing, China's external environment poses serious challenges, and there is increased risk of weakening external demand, he added.

China's trade exports tumbled sharply in December, with exports contracting by 9.9% year-on-year, extending a 8.7% drop in November, according to the latest official data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Wang acknowledged that some foreign companies are currently considering investing in places other than China, but described it as "a special phase," adding that "in the long run, the China market remains a 'must' rather than an 'option.'"

The American Chamber of Commerce in China released its annual business sentiment survey yesterday, in which a majority of companies said China is no longer seen as "a top three investment priority," for the first time in the survey's 25-year history.

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China's vice minister for commerce, Chen Chunjiang, addressed trade relations with the United States, reiterating that "China is willing to conduct candid consultations with the United States to reduce restrictions on bilateral trade and investment," in response to a question on the state of China's trade relationship with the U.S.

Outbound shipments from China to the U.S. shrank by 19.5% in December, according to Reuters' calculations based on the official data, reflecting faltering demand.

China and the U.S. "need to create a stable and predictable trade and economic environment to enhance confidence and business cooperation," Chen added.

Reporting by Shen Yan and Joe Cash Editing by David Goodman and Raissa Kasolowsky

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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