BEIJING - China will send two large trade delegations to the United States and two to European Union nations this year to help stimulate its imports, said the head of China's trade promotion organization.
Wan Jifei, chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, told China Daily at the sidelines of the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, that China will send many more trade delegations to developed nations in 2011 than in previous years.
The delegations will buy goods, especially energy-saving and environmentally friendly products, with the aim of balancing trade between China and those regions.
"During the first half (of the year), we will have one team each for the US and the EU - including Britain, Germany and France - and in the second half, one more each for both regions," said Wan, also a member of the CPPCC National Committee.
And a few days after the two sessions of CPPCC and National People's Congress, the China-Japan Green Economy Forum will be held in China.
During the forum, China will buy large amounts of high-tech, energy-saving and environmentally friendly products, the first time it will have ordered such a large volume of those types of goods from Japan, Wan said.
Since the second half of 2010, China has vowed to take measures to stimulate imports. At the annual commerce work conference in December, Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said a major task of the nation in 2011 is to balance trade by driving up imports and stabilizing exports.
Mechanical and electrical products, especially those related to new energy, new material and energy-saving, will be given priority when it comes to imports, as demand is growing and more such imports could help to boost the world economy, said the ministry.
"Maintaining balanced trade is now an urgent task for China. We will not only organize more trade delegations this year, but also increase efforts to hold more import-themed forums and exhibitions," said Wan.
Earlier this year, China appointed two vice-ministers of commerce to lead two trade delegations to the US during President Hu Jintao's state visit to the country.
The bigger trade delegation, comprising 400 entrepreneurs led by Wang Chao, signed six trade and investment agreements worth $600 million (S$760 million). Jiang Yaoping led the smaller delegation.
"China expects to show its willingness to reduce its trade surplus with developed nations through more frequent trade delegations. And the trade contracts could also be of some help to the economic recovery of the US and the EU," said Zhou Shijian, senior trade expert with Tsinghua University.
China runs huge trade surpluses with the US and the EU. In 2010, the surplus with the US was $181.3 billion, and that with the EU was $142.8 billion, while China's total surplus last year was $183.1 billion.
From 2006 to 2008, China sent a trade delegation to the US each year, signing deals worth $16.2 billion in 2006, $32.6 billion in 2007 and $13.6 billion in 2008.
In February 2009, a trade delegation led by the minister of commerce flew to European nations - including Germany, Switzerland and Spain - and purchased technologies and goods worth $15 billion. Three months later, China's delegation to the US agreed to spend $16.3 billion on 60 trade contracts.
"Besides the large delegations, we will send a slew of smaller groups to nations around the world," Wan said.
But "the impact (of the trade delegations) on promoting imports may be limited", he conceded.
Zhong Shan, vice-minister of commerce, said recently that China will reduce import tariffs on selected categories of goods to increase imports, but he did not give details.
-China Daily/Asia News Network