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China Says Trade Deficit Proves Currency Not To Blame

China says it posted its first trade deficit in six years in March as it resists calls to let its currency increase in value.

Chinese customs authorities announced Saturday that China had $7.2 billion more in imports than in exports last month.

A spokesman for China's Ministry of Commerce (Yao Jian) said Saturday that the March trade deficit proves that the foreign trade balance depends on market demand and other factors, rather than on the value of its currency.

Western nations that import large amounts of Chinese goods say China keeps the value of its currency artificially low, making Chinese products cheaper. The issue has become a major sore point in China-U.S. trade relations.

Chinese officials said Saturday imports jumped more than $30 billion in February to almost $120 billion in March. Meanwhile, exports grew more slowly, reaching about $112 billion.

The White House has pressed China to let its currency, the yuan, to be more influenced by market forces.

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Washington on the sidelines of the upcoming nuclear non-proliferation summit.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.