Japan Economic Newswire
China's fast-paced growth in trade has triggered imbalances in Asia, with the region'spoorest countries unable to benefit from the country's economic rise, a report by the U.N.Development Program said Thursday.China, along with other middle- to higher-income countries, should give special tradetreatment to the least developed countries to alleviate the situation, the UNDP said in itsfirst "Human Development Report" specifically covering the Asia-Pacific region.The report said that exports to China by five poor countries in the region -- Bangladesh,Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Nepal -- totaled a mere $314 million in 2004, compared toimports of Chinese goods totaling $3.56 billion.That left them with a total trade deficit of $3.25 billion, according to the report.The least developed countries "look toward China with some trepidation -- perceivingtheir giant neighbor as a strong competitor capable not just of capturing some of theirexport markets for textiles and garments, for example, but also of displacing even someof their humbler domestic industries," the report said."Nor do they see many offsetting opportunities for exporting to China -- which mainlyrequires raw materials, machinery and high-tech equipment," it said.China should, together with other richer countries in Asia, provide special treatment tothe poorer countries, for example by voluntarily offering unilateral preferential tariff ratesto imports from those nations, the report said.The end of export quotas on textiles and apparel last year has also benefited the biggercountries in Asia, with China's share in the European Union and U.S. markets combinedrising from 20 percent to 27 percent.India's share has risen from about 5 percent to more than 6 percent, but those of poorercountries such as Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam remain largely unchanged, accordingto the report.The report was referring to the impact of the expiration of the Multi-Fiber Arrangement, afour-decade-old agreement that regulated the world's exports and imports of textile andapparel products by allowing countries to impose quotas.Bill Bikales, senior UNDP economist in China, said China should share its experience of translating achievements in areas such as health and education to economic growth withits poorer neighbors."In addition, China can consider granting the poorest countries preferential treatment intrade relations," he said at a news conference.
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