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News from China
Fiat Chrysler sets up new JV in Shanghai
17th July 2015

 GAC Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Co (GFC), the joint venture of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Guangzhou Automobile Industry Group Co, yesterday launched a sales company in Shanghai.

The new joint venture, GAC Fiat Chrysler Automobile Sales Co, will be responsible for all product planning, marketing, sales and after-sales of Jeep, Fiat and Chrysler brands, GFC said.

“We will accelerate the pace of product planning and manufacturing, and introduce 10 new models to the Chinese market in the next five years,” Zheng Jie, CEO of the new venture, said in Shanghai yesterday.

Jeep will be the flagship brand for GFC, and its domestically made sport-utility vehicles will start production in the first half of next year at GFC’s Guangzhou factory.

As growth in passenger vehicle sales is set to slow to single digit this year from last year’s 12.6 percent amid an economic downturn, SUV models are seen as the key for automakers to attract customers in the world’s largest vehicle market.

Sales of SUVs hit 1.29 million in the first quarter of 2015, up 48.8 percent year on year to be the fastest growing category in the market, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

“By 2020, Jeep vehicles will cover all SUV categories from small to luxury models,” said Ye Wuping, director of product marketing department of the new company.

Source: Shanghai Daily July 17, 2015
China plans subsidized loans for importers to support trade
16th July 2015

 CHINA plans to give more of its importers subsidized loans as part of wider efforts to shore up the trade sector and support the world’s second-largest economy, the State Council said yesterday after a weekly meeting.

Hurt by anaemic foreign and domestic demand, China’s trade sector has undershot the government’s target of growing the value of Chinese imports and exports by 6 percent this year. In fact, imports and exports slumped almost 7 percent in the first six months.

To stoke activity, the State Council, China’s Cabinet, said it will increase the disbursements of subsidized loans for importers, and ensure that goods are cleared more quickly through customs.

More advanced technology equipment and components will also be imported to boost China’s domestic demand and help its companies to move up the production value chain, the government said in a statement on its website.

The Cabinet also reiterated China’s currency policy by saying that the yuan will be kept at a stable and reasonable level to minimize the foreign exchange risks faced by companies.

In reality, however, the yuan has hit record highs this year against a series of foreign currencies including the euro on the back of a stronger greenback.

More credit guarantees would be given to exporters so they can get loans, and banks would be encouraged to provide support to exporters when they are claiming their tax rebates.

China will also increase the amount of loans it issues from its US$3.69 trillion of foreign exchange reserves.

Source: Shanghai Daily. July 16,2015
Cautious Americans trim spending
15th July 2015

 AMERICANS cut back their spending at stores and restaurants last month, a sign that they remain cautious despite robust job growth in the past year.

Retail sales fell 0.3 percent in the United States in June, the Commerce Department said yesterday, the weakest showing since February’s harsh winter weather kept shoppers indoors. That followed a robust 1 percent jump in May, though that was revised down from a previous estimate of 1.2 percent.

Economists had expected that consumers would rein in their spending after May’s large gain. But the reversal was much sharper than projected.

It suggests that consumers, still scarred by the Great Recession, are reluctant to spend freely even as unemployment has fallen and gas prices are about 90 cents a gallon cheaper than a year earlier.

Excluding autos, gas, building materials and restaurants, so-called core retail sales — which factor into the government’s official measure of economic growth — fell 0.1 percent in June, after an increase of 0.7 percent in May.

Spending at restaurants and bars, an area of strength in recent months, slipped 0.2 percent. Sales of building materials fell 1.3 percent. Online and catalog retailers reported a 0.4 percent drop in sales.

Sales at auto dealers fell 1.1 percent, but that drop came after a big gain in the previous month. Auto purchases reached the highest level in a decade in May, so even with the decline, sales remain at a healthy level.

Economists watch the retail sales report closely because it provides the first indication each month of the willingness of Americans to spend. Consumer spending drives 70 percent of the economy. Yet retail sales account for only about a third of spending, with services such as haircuts and Internet access making up the other two-thirds.

Despite June’s weak showing, there is evidence that consumers are growing more confident and may spend at a healthy pace for most of the rest of this year.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index jumped in June to its second-highest level since the recession ended in June 2009. It is now 17.4 percent higher than a year ago.

Source: Shanghai Daily, July 15, 2015
BMW China partner issues profit warning
14th July 2015

 BRILLIANCE China Automotive Holdings Ltd, which makes BMW cars in China, issued a profit warning yesterday, citing slowing sales in the world’s biggest car market.

Brilliance, which makes minivans for China’s domestic market and assembles luxury cars for BMW via its joint venture with the German carmaker, said it expected first-half profit to fall 40 percent from a year earlier mainly because of lower results from its BMW Brilliance 50 percent owned joint venture.

“The decrease in BMW Brilliance’s profit was caused by the higher selling costs incurred during the first six months of 2015 as a result of the slowdown in the growth of the Chinese economy and the automotive industry,” Brilliance said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Brilliance’s profits, which are highly dependent on the JV’s earnings, would be roughly 2.2 billion yuan (US$354 million) for the first half of 2015, according to a Reuters calculation.

BMW Brilliance also faces higher costs as it prepares to launch new models and new production facilities, according to the filing.

Source: Shanghai Daily, July 14, 2015

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