China’s 2006 global trade surplus jumped nearly 75 percent from the previous year to a record $177.5 billion, a state news agency said Wednesday in a report that could fuel U.S. complaints about market barriers and currency policy.China’s trade gap has soared as it became the world’s low-cost manufacturing center, churning out furniture, toys, shoes and other goods, often for sale under foreign brand names.

The jump in the trade gap came despite a small but steady rise in China’s currency, the yuan, over the past 18 months. Washington is pushing for a faster appreciation in hopes it will ease the U.S. trade deficit with China by making American goods more attractive to Chinese consumers.

China’s exports in 2006 rose 27.2 percent from the previous year to $969 billion, while imports were up 20 percent to $791.5 billion, the Xinhua News Agency said, citing the General Administration of Customs.

The country’s global trade surplus for 2005 was $102 billion.

Xinhua gave no country-by-country breakdown, but the U.S. trade gap with China was expected to pass 2005’s record $202 billion. China’s global surplus is smaller than that with the United States because it runs a deficit with other countries.

 

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