BEIJING (AP) - China announced Tuesday it will cut tax rebates on exports of clothes, shoes and other goods in an effort to slow the growth of its huge trade surplus amid rising threats of punitive action by U.S. lawmakers.
The move also is meant to slow exports of cement and other goods deemed too energy-intensive or polluting, the Finance Ministry said on its Internet site.
Rebates of value-added taxes will be eliminated on July 1 on 553 categories of goods including salt, cement and fertilizers the ministry said. Rebates will be cut on 2,268 types of products including shoes, clothing and plastic goods.
The step is meant to ''improve control of the overly fast growth of foreign trade exports,'' the ministry said.
The government has imposed a string of measures to slow the growth of both China's trade surplus and resource- and energy-intensive industries such as steel production. They included cutting or eliminating value-added tax rebates given to promote exports.
Despite that, China's trade surplus in May rose to its third-highest monthly level on record, up 73 percent from the same month last year at $22.5 billion.
Beijing has promised to narrow its trade gap, but economists say multibillion-dollar surpluses are likely to continue due to strong foreign demand for low-cost Chinese manufactured goods.
The United States wants Beijing to raise the value of its currency, the yuan, which critics say is undervalued, giving Chinese exporters an unfair advantage. Several American lawmakers are calling for punitive tariffs on Chinese goods if Beijing fails to act.
The United States reported a $232.5 billion trade deficit with China in 2006, and this year's figure is expected to surpass that.
China reported a global $177.5 billion trade surplus last year and analysts say the gap this year could reach $250 billion. The global surplus is smaller than China's surplus with the United States because the country runs deficits with some other trading partners.