China’s trade surplus is expected to reach $250 billion this year, as exports surge to $1.2 trillion and imports grow to $950 billion, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing a Ministry of Commerce official.

Total volume of foreign trade could exceed $2.1 trillion, up 20% over last year, and could rise another 15% to $2.4 trillion in 2008, Xinhua said, citing a report to the Canton trade fair by Liu Haiquan, the Deputy Director of the General Department at the Ministry.

“Continued global economic growth and the robust demand of the international market have contributed to China’s increasing foreign trade,” Xinhua cited Liu as saying.

Last week, Wang Xiaoguang, a senior economist at the Macroeconomic Research Institute, a think-tank under the National Development and Reform Commission, predicted China’s trade surplus would hit $257 billion this year, up about 45% from 2006, and would grow by 20% in 2008 to $308.4 billion.

China’s trade surplus of $185.65 billion in the first nine months of this year exceeded the record surplus of $177.47 billion for all of 2006, with the busiest months for exporters in the run-up to the Christmas holidays still to come.

September’s surplus of $23.91 billion was the fourth largest on record.

Increasing foreign direct investment has played an important role in the surplus, Liu said in his report at the fair. China’s actual FDI rose 10.9% year-on-year to 47.2 billion US dollars in the first three quarters. (Reuters)