BEIJING (Reuters) - China will take steps to boost exports, including encouraging banks to boost lending, expanding export credit insurance and raise tax rebates for some firms, the cabinet said on Wednesday, in the latest step to underpin growth.
"Foreign trade is an important part as well as a driving force of the national economy," the State Council said in a statement after a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.
Banks will be encouraged to lend to profitable trading companies that have received overseas orders, export credit insurance will be expanded and tax rebates for exporters of some machinery products will be increased, it said.
China's exports in March returned to growth for the first time in nine months, adding to further signs of stabilization in the world's second-largest economy but officials have cautioned about the trade outlook.
The government will also implement proactive import policies, supporting imports of advanced equipment and technology, the cabinet said.
The government will step up investment in roads, railways and airports in poorer regions and encourage its less developed western and central provinces to attract investment from more developed eastern provinces.
China's economic growth slowed to 6.7 percent in the first quarter, its weakest pace since early 2009, but stronger-than-anticipated activity indicators for March suggested the economy was picking up.
Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk and Kevin Yao; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Robert Birsel