BEIJING -- China will launch a one-year campaign of concrete measures to improve the quality of its exports, a senior trade official said on Friday.
The move by the Ministry of Commerce, which is aimed at maintaining balanced and sustainable trade and boosting domestic manufacturers' global branding, is in line with the country's plans to upgrade its industrial structure, said experts.
It is also expected to help reduce trade frictions in the long run.
The campaign comes just weeks after China pledged to crack down on exports of pirated products to Africa, part of a six-month drive launched in December to combat intellectual property rights infringements.
"We have made remarkable progress (in export quality) in the last few years," said Gao Hucheng, vice-minister of commerce and China's international trade representative. "We expect to gain new competitive advantages and boost our exports overseas through improving the quality of China's exports.
"Such a move could reduce the chance of trade frictions with other countries," he said.
China is the world's largest exporter and the second largest importer. According to the Ministry of Commerce, from 2004 to 2010, more than 99 percent of China's food exports to the United States, the European Union and Japan were qualified, one of the highest rates in the world.
The ministry will collaborate with relevant authorities and industrial associations to advance the exports improvement program, Gao said.
Chen Deming, minister of commerce, said in December at the annual commerce work conference that an important task for the ministry this year is to "maintain steady and healthy growth for exports" while stimulating imports.
He Weiwen, a standing council member of the China Society for the World Trade Organization (WTO) Studies, said the new move is "very necessary" and will encourage Chinese companies to move up the value chain and shift focus to high value-added goods.
Although China's exports grew by 31.3 percent in 2010 after a decline of 16 percent in 2009, both government officials and trade experts predict exports this year will slow down due to weak overseas demand.
"Improving the quality will boost the reputation of 'made in China' products," said He. "Only when the quality of China's products is guaranteed can the country's exports be expected to develop at a steady pace."
Since entering the WTO in 2001, experts say China has been troubled by trade frictions around the world and become a major target of trade protectionism, especially since the global financial crisis.
Zhou Shijian, senior researcher at Tsinghua University's center for United States-China relations, said a major reason for the frequent trade frictions is the low price of China's exported goods. "Once the quality of our products is improved, prices will go up and foreign nations will find it hard to blame China," he said.
According to WTO statistics, China was involved in 35 percent of all anti-dumping cases and 71 percent of all anti-subsidy cases worldwide in 2008.
The country exported 9.6 percent of the total global volume in 2009, but it was involved in 40 percent of all anti-dumping cases and 75 percent all anti-subsidy cases.
China is reported to have been subject to 66 anti-subsidy investigations worth $7.7 billion in 2010.