Trade and investment boom

In the past four years, the nation has become the world's third-largest trader, the 13th-biggest foreign investor and a major target for overseas funds.
Boosted by steady global economic growth and fast expansion and reform of its trade system, China's imports and exports have seen robust development since the 16th National Congress of the Communist Party of China convened in 2002, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said yesterday.
China's foreign trade expanded nearly 30 percent on average in the past four years, with exports increasing 31.3 percent annually and imports increasing 28 percent annually. This has brought the country's trade volume in goods to US$1.76 trillion last year from $620.8 billion in 2002.
In 2006, exports rose by 27 percent year-on-year to US$969 billion, while imports climbed 20 percent to US$791.6 billion. The total trade volume grew 23.8 percent from a year earlier.
According to the World Trade Organization, China went from being the fifth-largest trader by volume in 2002 to the third-largest in 2004.
The nation has encouraged companies to climb the industrial chain since 2002, by improving exports in hi-tech products, cultivating brands and strengthening research and development. This policy has helped Chinese firms sharpen their competitive edge in the household electronic equipment and information sector. Electronic and machinery as well as hi-tech products are gradually replacing labor-intensive light industrial goods to become China's major exports.
Bilateral trade
Meanwhile, the nation is actively involved in regional economic cooperation and bilateral trade.
China has signed free trade agreements (FTAs) with the ASEAN, Chile and Pakistan. It is negotiating with another six economies, including Iceland, New Zealand and Singapore, and doing a feasibility study on similar agreements with India, South Korea and Peru, according to the NBS.
The country's optimized investment environment has continued to attract strong interest from foreign investors in the past four years.
In 2002, foreign direct investment (FDI) in China exceeded US$50 billion for the first time and has increased steadily since. The figure in China's non-financial sectors was US$63 billion last year.
China had accumulated US$703.9 billion in actual foreign direct investment by the end of last year.

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