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[BEIJING] China's trade outlook this year is complicated and grim and the country must work hard to keep growth in exports and imports stable, the trade ministry said on Friday.
The remarks, published on the ministry's website, came ahead of China's release of its trade data for January, when export growth is forecast to soften and imports are predicted to shrink in value.
To help the sector, authorities would stabilise China's imports of raw materials and encourage purchases of consumer goods and high-tech equipment parts, the statement said.
New business models for trade companies will be developed and cross-border e-commerce will be promoted and supported.
A mainstay driver of the world's second-largest economy, the export sector has floundered in recent years on unsteady foreign demand and rising labour costs that have depressed profit margins.
But the Ministry of Commerce said exports on average still contributed about 18 per cent of China's overall economic growth and employed 180 million people.