China's central bank has slashed its forecast for exports, predicting a second straight annual fall in shipments, but said the economy will still grow 6.8 percent this year. Hayley Platt reports.
They're getting lower - Chinese exports fell an annual 4.1% in May - more than expected and the tenth drop in 12 months. The central bank responded by slashing its exports forecasts, and predicting a second straight annual fall. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, CEBR, VICKY PRYCE, SAYING: "If you look at the distribution of their exports, that the U.S. hasn't been buying anything like as much from China as it used to. It had a rather poor first quarter and is only recovering now." Imports were more encouraging, with only a slight decline. That offered some hope of stability as China attempts to switch to a more consumer focused economy. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, CEBR, VICKY PRYCE, SAYING: "Some of the measures for which the Chinese government has been pushing through recently to stimulate the economy a little bit more, are beginning to in fact work and maybe therefore the slowdown in the Chinese economy, although it's obvious is not going to be anywhere near as bad as some people feared." Some glutted sectors might not be quite so encouraged. Steel and rare earth exports continued to rise. US officials have been trying to tackle that issue in Beijing this week - hoping to persuade China to stop dumping underpriced goods on offshore markets. The UK has a keen interest in that - with a Tata Steel plant facing closure. But it was industrial output making headlines there just two weeks ahead of a vote on EU membership. And for once there was an encouraging news. Industrial output rose 2% in April - the fastest pace in nearly four years, boosted by pharmaceuticals, car production and gas.