A quick withdrawal of stimulus by some countries could harm China's exports, according to a Ministry of Commerce official, who also warned of "unprecedented" challenges this year.

The outlook for international trade this year is clouded by uncertain demand, as global economic growth is projected to slow due to Covid outbreaks, labour shortages, supply chain disruptions, and rising inflation, according to Li Xingqian, head of MOFCOM's foreign trade department.

"Unbalanced economic recoveries are increasing global systemic risks," he added in Beijing. "Overly fast rapid withdrawal of stimulus policies by some countries could cause demand contractions, price volatility, and, as a result, impact Chinese industry's exports."

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On the back of strong global demand, China's exports jumped nearly 30% to a new high last year, with factories humming along while production in other countries was disrupted by virus outbreaks. However, growth is expected to slow this year due to the difficulty of surpassing 2021's record levels and an anticipated fall in demand for work-from-home technology and health-care equipment as other countries revert to more typical consumption patterns.

The push by developed countries to bring manufacturing back home, rising material costs, jammed transportation routes, and a shortage of essential components like semiconductors are all threatening foreign shipments, according to Li.

"The pursuit of reshoring of sectors by developed economies is dividing markets and decreasing the efficiency of global resource allocation," he said. Despite increasing revenues, China's small exporters are being pressured by "sharply higher" costs and stagnant profitability, he noted.

Despite this, the government is confident that full-year trade growth would be kept within a "reasonable" range, thanks to new market expansion and a credit boost for exporters that will improve their ability to deal with foreign exchange risks, Li said.