Beijing — China’s trade surplus surged in March, sharply illustrating US concerns about its swelling bilateral deficit days before Hu Jintao, China’s president, travels to Washington for a summit meeting with President George W. Bush. The March surplus of US$11.2bn, more than double the amount for the same month last year, and the largest since October, is a sign that China is on track to match and perhaps surpass the 2005 record surplus of US$102bn. The release of the March trade figures coincided with a trenchant defence by Beijing of the country’s intellectual property rights protection regime, the other major issue expected to dominate the Hu-Bush summit. The surplus will highlight concerns in the US, especially in Congress, that China’s rapidly growing exports are bolstered by a tightly-managed currency kept artificially weak to aid local enterprises. Although most Chinese economists oppose a hasty move to a free floating currency, many also believe the renminbi should be allowed to appreciate to bring down the surplus and help re-balance the economy. Shi Jianhuai, of Peking University, said the surplus was the result of manufacturing overcapacity and weak consumer demand in China, with enterprises forced to rely on […]

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