China's trade in the past 12 months has gained fresh momentum, logging record volumes and further increasing its surplus. But a stronger yuan might dent 2014 outlooks as Chinese goods become more expensive overseas.
China's 2013 trade in goods surpassed $4-trillion (2.94-trillion euros), marking a new annual record for the world's second-largest economy and confirming its position of what's most likely the biggest trading nation now.
"It's very likely that China overtook the US to become the world's largest trading country in goods [excluding services] in 2013 for the first time," General Administration of Customs spokesman Zheng Yuesheng said in a statement on Friday.
China's exports last year rose by 7.9 percent, while imports increased by 7.3 percent, with the trade surplus soaring to $260 billion, up 12.8 percent from 2012.
Strong yuan a headache
Once again, the European Union was China's biggest trading partner, followed by the US and the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The government had indicated it wanted to transform the economy to create more domestic demand and thus also fuel imports with a view to narrowing the current trade imbalances.
While the prospects for Chinese exports remain largely positive with regard to a pick-up of the global economy, shipments abroad may nevertheless be impacted by a continuously strong national currency.
The high value of the yuan, which gained more than 3 percent against the US greenback last year, has started worrying export-oriented companies across the Asian nation as their products are getting more expensive overseas.
hg/pfd (AFP, dpa)