China may have become the largest auto market because of the unexpected surge in the sale of vehicles in the past six months, but its prospects of becoming the world's largest goods exporter don't seem all that rosy.
Last year, China's exports worth 1.43 trillion U.S. dollars was slightly lower than Germany's 1.47 trillion dollars. But the WTO has forecast that despite a 10-percent drop in world trade volume this year, China will overtake Germany as the largest goods exporter because it is well positioned to reap the benefits of a likely global recovery faster.
The WTO forecast should have come as heartening news to Chinese policymakers, justifiably worried over declining overseas demand, and must have enthused Chinese exporters.
Government statistics point toward an improvement, too. In June, China's exports fell 21.4 percent year-on-year, 5 percent lower than in May. Imports, too, picked up last month, falling 13.2 percent compared with 25.2 percent in the previous month mainly because of the rise in domestic investment and consumption.
If the world economy recovers on the back of a strong rebound of the Chinese economy, as is expected, the rate of decline in China's exports would narrow down further in the second half of this year. Hence, it will not be surprising if Chinese exporters maintain, if not increase, their share of global trade.
The double-digit export-oriented annual growth of the past few years made China focus more on foreign trade. But global recession has put a question mark on exports as a long-term growth engine.
To a certain extent, the government's 586-billion dollar stimulus package and record bank lending are meant to help prevent exports from taking a plunge. And the expected rise of China as the world's top exporter raises exporters' confidence that they could swim against the tide of recession and get a firmer grip on the global market.