BEIJING, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- China's foreign trade is expected to exceed 2.9 trillion U.S. dollars this year, and the country expects its trade and international payments to be more balanced over the next five years, Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said Thursday.
In an interview with Xinhua, Chen said it is very likely that China could become the world's largest exporter and the second largest importer by the end of the year due to the strong growth in exports and imports.
Also, China's retail sales of consumer goods will top 15 trillion yuan (2.25 trillion U.S. dollars), of which 450 billion yuan (67.53 billion U.S. dollars) will be spent in online shopping, he said.
China's imports and exports rebounded sharply this year from the recession level in 2009. Its foreign trade jumped 36.3 percent year on year to 2.67728 trillion U.S. dollars in the first 11 months of the year, according to the latest customs figures.
Retail sales of consumer goods in the January-to-November period reached 13.92 trillion yuan (2.1 trillion U.S. dollars), up 18.4 percent from the same period last year.
As for the 12th Five-year Plan period (2011-2015), Chen said the ministry would aim to make its trade and international payments more balanced, thus creating a better investment environment to attract high-end international capital.
He said the next five years would be a crucial period for Chinese enterprises to invest overseas.
"The country encourages competitive enterprises to go global with efficient risk-control measures," he said, adding, "We will give them more public service and more effective legal protection in this regard."
Chen said China's outbound direct investments in non-financial sectors would probably surpass 50 billion U.S. dollars this year, or about half of foreign direct investment China receives this year.
"I estimate the proportion will be much higher in the future," he added.
The minister said China's consumption stimulus measures, such as the rural home appliance subsidy program, and vehicle and home appliance old-for-new trade-in purchases, might continue as long-term policies after improvement.
"To be specific, our measures to stimulate rural consumption could continue after necessary adjustments, but stimulus measure to boost auto sales should be adjusted," he said.
To boost the economy amid the global economic downturn and spur the use of clean and fuel-efficient cars, the Chinese government reduced the car-buying tax and handed out vehicle trade-in subsidy since 2009. Such measures are due to expire by the end of this year.
Chen said the ministry would continue vehicle trade-in subsidy for the sake of environmental protection and the use of clean fuel rather than just boost the general auto sales in the country.