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Wen pledges stronger support for the faltering export sector

CHINA "must not slacken efforts" to promote exports amid a sharp decline in external demand and growing international trade protectionism, Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday, pledging reinforced government support for the sector.

"We will continue to diversify our export markets and compete on quality, enhance traditional export markets and energetically open up new markets," Wen said as he delivered the government work report to the annual session of the National People's Congress. The government will launch a series of measures to relieve the difficulties facing exporters and to "ensure steady growth in foreign trade," the premier said. He pledged to use "fiscal and taxation policies" to support the country's exports, a driving force in the national economy.

The past year has witnessed a dramatic change in the government's foreign trade policy. As part of its bid for balanced trade, China moved to discourage exports by scrapping or cutting tax rebates at the beginning of last year.

But the spread of the international financial crisis and an ensuing drop in external demand forced the government to raise export rebate rates, ease credit and lower customs in the latter half of year.

Wen said a central government fund for trade development will be increased in an effort to cultivate brand-name export products and support small and medium-sized enterprises in expanding their international markets.

To improve the country's financial services for importing and exporting, the government will expand the coverage of export credit insurance and encourage financial institutions to develop export credit, he said.

The government will adjust the prohibited or restricted commodity categories of processing trade and encourage the relocation of export processing industries from the eastern to the central and western regions, Wen said.


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