BEIJING (Reuters) - China will have difficulty meeting its 10 percent trade growth target this year, Vice Premier Wang Qishan said in comments published late on Thursday, underlining challenges to supporting critical pillars for the world's second-biggest economy.
Wang's remakes came as China cut interest rates for the second time in a matter of weeks on Thursday, stepping up efforts to bolster an economy that last quarter probably suffered its weakest growth since the global financial crisis.
Speaking during a visit to the eastern province of Jiangsu, Wang said China would import more high-tech equipment, manufacturing components, energy and consumer goods, while helping small- and medium-sized exporters cope with a credit squeeze.
China should not underestimate the impact of external shocks on its economy, although Beijing will try to keep trade growth stable as far as possible, the official Xinhua news agency quoted Wang as saying.
A full-year trade growth target of 10 percent already marked a significant slowdown from the first part of last year, when China's annual expansion rate was averaging more than 20 percent.
Concerns that even this goal may not be met suggest the country's downturn is proving deeper than expected.
China releases its trade data for June on July 10, and analysts forecast exports to have grown 9.9 percent from a year ago as imports grew 12.7 percent.
Reporting By Xiaoyi Shao and Gui Qing Koh; Editing by Ken Wills and Jacqueline Wong