BEIJING, March 5 (Xinhua) -- China hopes to increase its total foreign trade volume by around 8 percent amid slow world economic recovery and rising trade protectionism, according to a report submitted to the country's parliament on Tuesday.
The targeted foreign trade growth for the world's second-largest economy is higher than last year's real growth but still below the 10-percent target set for 2012.
"China's export prospects remain grim," said the report on a draft plan for 2013 national economic and social development, drafted by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and given to the first session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC).
"World economic growth will continue to be slow. The overall demand of major economies will remain weak. All forms of protectionism are clearly reasserting themselves," according to the report.
Due to economic woes in the European Union, the United States and other major trading partners, China saw its foreign trade increase 6.2 percent to 3.87 trillion U.S. dollars in 2012, with a trade surplus of 231.1 billion U.S. dollars.
Last year's foreign trade growth was considerably lower than the 10-percent growth previously targeted by the government.
Fan Gang, an economist and former advisor to China's central bank, said the country's single-digit growth in foreign trade last year should not be interpreted as a long-term trend.
"China still has great potential to boost exports' contribution to GDP growth," Fan said.
Although exports growth slowed markedly to 7.9 percent in 2012 from 20.3 percent in 2011, a 2.05-trillion-U.S.-dollar export volume secured China's position as the world's largest exporter. Also, imports added just 4.3 percent last year, compared with a 24.9-percent increase in 2011, making China the world's second-largest importer.
Zhang Liqun, an analyst from the Development Research Center of the State Council, China's cabinet, said he expects exports to increase 10 percent this year amid a better external environment.
"Positive factors are building up as China looks for new competitive advantages," Zhang said.
As the world economic structure will continue to change, the report noted, the government must implement a more active opening-up strategy and quickly create new competitive advantages, stabilize and expand China's share in the international market, and further improve its open economy.
According to the report, China will accelerate the development of trade in services, further improve the foreign investment utilization structure and steadily increase China's outward investment.
China attracted 111.7 billion U.S. dollars in foreign direct investment (FDI) in non-financial sectors last year, down 3.7 percent year on year, while the country's non-financial outward direct investment (ODI) surged 28.6 percent to 77.2 billion U.S. dollars last year.
Non-financial FDI is expected to rise 1.2 percent to 113 billion U.S. dollars in 2013, and China's non-financial ODI is forecast to jump 15 percent to 88.7 billion U.S. dollars this year, according to the report.