A.P. Moeller-Maersk is betting that China will evolve into a consumer economy from a nation driven by export growth within a decade.

“We’re investing in our China set-up as we’re building up a large organization there so we can be ready to help customers who want to export to China,” Chief Executive Officer Nils Smedegaard Andersen, said.

The world’s second-largest economy is targeting more sustainable growth as it prepares for a shift in leadership, with Vice President Xi Jinping set to replace President Hu Jintao as head of China’s Communist Party. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has already cut China’s economic growth target as the government encourages consumer demand and weans the nation off its reliance on exports.

“It will be very, very positive for us – and probably also for the rest of the world – if China succeeds in this development,” said Andersen. “We can already register the trend as we’re seeing rising Chinese imports. So it’s already happening.”

For now, Maersk’s container line, which ships about 15% of the world’s sea-born consumer trade, is still sending empty containers to China as exports continue to outpace imports.

The value of China’s exports rose 11.6% from a year earlier to $176 billion, while the value of imports gained just 2.4% to $144 billion, according to trade statistics released Nov. 10 by the Beijing-based Customs General Administration.

Still, China’s foreign trade expanded at a slower pace than last year in the first 10 months of the year, according to the Nov. 10 report, putting at risk the government’s 2012 target of 10% growth. Exports through October rose 7.8% while imports gained 4.6%, leaving a trade surplus of $180.2 billion.

Source: Fresh Plaza Nov 2012

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