Beijing, January 10:

China’s 2006 global trade surplus jumped nearly 75 per cent over the previous year to a record $177.5 billion, according to data reported Wednesday by a state news agency.

The report seemed certain to fuel U.S. complaints about China’s market access and currency policies. China’s global trade surplus for 2005 was $102 billion. Exports in 2006 rose 27.2 per cent from the previous year to $969 billion, while imports were up 20 per cent to $791.5 billion, the Xinhua News Agency said, citing the General Administration of Customs.

The monthly trade surplus in December was $21 billion, down slightly from the previous month, Xinhua said. That was still among the biggest monthly totals on record. Xinhua did not give a country-by-country breakdown, but the United States says its trade deficit with China is on track to surpass 2005’s record $202 billion.

China’s surplus is smaller than that with US because it runs a deficit with other countries.

China’s surplus has soared as exports of light manufactured goods grew. Import growth slowed in 2006 as the government imposed controls to slow an investment boom, which held down purchases of foreign factory equipment and other goods.

Washington is pressing Beijing to lower barriers to foreign competition in its markets and to ease currency controls that it says keep the Chinese yuan undervalued, giving China’s exporters an unfair trade advantage and adding to the trade gap.

China was a net auto exporter in 2006 for the second straight year, Xinhua said. It said exports doubled last year to 300,000 units, while imports rose 41 per cent to 229,000 units.