Chinese vehicle exports maintained a growth rate of 88 percent, making annual projected exports more than 1 million this year, according to Zhang Ji, a director of the electrical and mechanical division of Commerce Services' Import and Export Department.

Zhang made the comments this Thursday in an industry forum preceding next week's Beijing auto show. According to WTO's statistics, automobile trade should account for about 10 percent of the general trade he said. China's current vehicle exports accounted for only 1.5 percent of the total export trade, which means there is still much room for growth.

China's automobile import and export trade is in a deficit in 2007, with the whole year's imports of $26.2 billion and exports of $24.5 billion. Impacted by the appreciation of the Yuan and rising costs, analysts believe that China's automobile exports may be adversely affected in the year to come.

But Zhang believes that even taking the above factors into the consideration, China's automobile products still have comparative advantages against middle-and-low-lever cars, buses and trucks, as well as the areas of automotive components.

The fact that China's automobile vehicle export grew 88 percent in the first quarter, despite a US. downturn, illustrates that China's automotive products do not compete with multinational corporations, but cater to emerging markets. Zhang added.

Wang Fengying, general manager of Great Wall Automobile, admitted that the appreciation of the Yuan and the rise in cost brought great pressure on car exports, but said it has no impact on sales. The car maker has a lean production in order to cut costs, the company also added.

Zhang said that Chinese Government now needs to encourage enterprises to continuously improve the quality of export growth, rather than blindly expanding export volume.

The car export trade companies has declined from more than 1340 to less than 500 since Chinese government conducted accreditation on the automobile exports operators in 2006.