If anyone is terrified of trade protectionism right now, it’s China.
While increased protectionism would likely hurt both China and developed economies such as the U.S. and Europe, China probably has the most to lose since it requires economic growth just to maintain political stability.
Thus in the face of mounting pressure abroad, China is promoting itself as a major global import consumer, which it is:
“China’s processing trade (bringing in goods and exporting finished products), which is the bulk of its exports, could plummet in the coming five years,” he said.
The country will also streamline non-tariff measures that could potentially impede imports, simplify import procedures and reduce relevant costs, he said, adding that China has abolished import licenses for more than 800 kinds of goods over the past five years. It will also consider providing easier finance for importers, he said.
Obviously there is substantial posturing right now by the Chinese government, but even though the U.S. and Europe may not have felt it so much, China actually buoyed Asia during the crisis via its import demand. Much of Germany’s relative success vs. the rest of Europe was also due to its China-bound exports. Australia is booming thanks to Chinese commodities demand.
So while China’s exports may not ‘plummet’, as the official above says, growth could slow substantially in the years ahead and China’s self-promotion as a global consumer isn’t all hogwash even if it used to be.