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China foreign debt rises to 300 billion

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s foreign debt grew at a slower pace in the third quarter, the country’s foreign exchange regulator said on Friday, reflecting a slowdown in investment from abroad amid the weaker global economy.

China’s foreign debt reached $442.0 billion (300 billion pounds) at the end of September, up 3.4 percent from $427.4 billion at the end of June, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said on Friday.

China’s foreign debt rose 8.9 percent in the second quarter and 5.1 percent in the first quarter.

The end-September level was up 18.3 percent from the end of 2007, the foreign exchange regulator said on its website (www.safe.gov.cn).

Short-term foreign debt, an indicator of inflows of capital, rose to $280.0 billion at the end of September, up from $265.4 billion at the end of June. That amounted to 63.4 percent of the total.

But medium- and long-term foreign debt, which accounted for 36.6 percent of the total, fell $0.2 billion in the third quarter.

China’s short-term foreign debt was about 14.6 percent of its $1.906 trillion in foreign exchange reserves as of the end of September.

China’s yuan has stablised against the U.S. dollar since the second half of 2008. The country’s foreign exchange reserves fell in October for the first month since December 2003, despite a record high trade surplus of the month, suggesting that speculative capital has begun to flow out of the country.

SAFE issued rules this week allowing exporters to accept 25 percent of the total due as prepayment and allowing importers to delay paying 25 percent of the total they owe, both up from 10 percent previously.

Reporting by Langi Chiang and Zhou Xin, Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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