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China aims to improve trade balance in 2011

A view shows containers at the Longtan port in Nanjing, Jiangsu province in this November 10, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Stringer
A view shows containers at the Longtan port in Nanjing, Jiangsu province in this November 10, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will try to import more in 2011 while keeping exports steady, Commerce Minister Chen Deming said on Wednesday, in a sign that the world's second-largest economy is keen to pull more weight as a consumer.

In a statement on the ministry's website www.mofcom.gov.cn, Chen said China wants to better balance its trade account, and will step up purchases of high-tech goods and commodities such as grains and cotton next year.

"We will improve our policies and further simplify regulations to support expansions in imports and promote trade balance," Chen said.

Beijing, under foreign pressure to contribute to global economic rebalancing, has taken steps to spur domestic consumption to help reduce the economy's reliance on exports.

Keeping up the pressure on the euro zone to resolve its debt crisis, Chen said Europe's debt problems posed a serious risk to the recovery in the world economy, and that has helped to lead to "an extremely complicated" 2011 trade outlook for China.

Chen also warned of risks incurred by the sovereign debt crisis in the European countries and noted that they may undermine the foundation of world economic recovery.

"Sovereign debt issue and risks in the financial system are still far from being solved, the global economic growth may slow down," he added.

On Tuesday, China urged European officials to take urgent action to resolve simmering debt problems at annual trade talks with the European Union, its biggest trading partner.

Chen said China would also study how to diversify the use of its $2.65 trillion foreign exchange reserves, the world's largest.

China will use part of its foreign exchange reserves to support overseas ventures by domestic firms.

Chen also urged developed countries to remove restrictions on exports of high-tech products to China, which is seen by Beijing as one of the major reasons behind China's swelling trade surplus.

(Reporting by Zhou Xin, Aileen Wang and Koh Gui Qing; Editing by Alex Richardson)