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News from China
AIIB approves 13 new members
24th March 2017

 THE Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank said yesterday that its board of governors has adopted resolutions approving 13 applicants to join the bank, bringing the bank’s total approved membership to 70.

 
This is the first time the multilateral development bank has welcomed new prospective members since its inception.
 
The approved applicants are five regional prospective members — Afghanistan, Armenia, Fiji, Hong Kong and Timor Leste — and eight non-regional prospective members — Belgium, Canada, Ethiopia, Hungary, Ireland, Peru, Sudan and Venezuela.
 
“The interest in joining AIIB from around the world affirms the rapid progress we have made to establish the bank as an international institution,” said Jin Liqun, president of AIIB.
 
“I am very proud that AIIB now has members from almost every continent, and we anticipate further applications being considered by our board of governors later this year,” he said.
 
The 13 prospective members will officially join AIIB once they complete the required domestic processes and deposit the first installment of capital with the US$100 billion bank.
 
The shares allocated to the new prospective members come from the bank’s existing pool of unallocated shares, according to AIIB.
 
With 57 signatories at its establishment in 2015, AIIB aims to provide financing to address the daunting infrastructure needs across Asia.
 
In June, the Beijing-based AIIB approved its first four loans, which totaled over half a billion dollars and were financed jointly with the Asian Development Bank and World Bank.
 
The loans went to projects in Pakistan, Indonesia, Tajikistan and Bangladesh.
Source: Shanghai Daily, March 24, 2017
Meat from Brazil taken off shelves
23rd March 2017

 SOME of China’s largest food suppliers have pulled Brazilian beef and poultry from their shelves in the first concrete sign that a deepening scandal over Brazil’s meat processing industry is hitting business in its top export market.

 
The moves by Sun Art Retail Group, China’s biggest hypermarket chain, and the Chinese arms of global retail giants Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Metro AG come days after China temporarily suspended Brazilian meat imports.
 
Safety fears over Brazilian meat have grown since police accused inspectors in the world’s biggest exporter of beef and poultry of taking bribes to allow sales of rotten and salmonella-tainted meats.
 
A spokeswoman for Sun Art Retail, which operates 400 Chinese hypermarkets, said yesterday that the chain removed beef supplied by top Brazilian exporters BRF SA and JBS SA from its shelves on Monday. Brazilian beef accounts for less than 10 percent of Sun Art’s beef supply, she said.
 
Wal-Mart has also removed Brazilian meat products from its stores, a person familiar with the matter said. He declined to be quoted.
 
Germany’s Metro has withdrawn Brazilian chicken legs and wings from its Chinese stores, said a manager, who declined to be named. The retailer, with 84 stores in China’s mainland, does not sell Brazilian beef.
 
JD.com, one of China’s biggest online retailers, said in an e-mailed statement that it had removed all listings for imported Brazilian meat and is reviewing orders in process.
 
While Brazilian officials sought to reassure consumers that the investigation had revealed only isolated incidents of sanitary problems, the reaction by Chinese retailers suggests that the probe could have far-reaching repercussions.
 
Chinese consumers appeared largely unconcerned or unaware of the scandal in Brazil, with few people commenting on the issue on social media networks.
 
But the country has been hit by its own safety scandals in the past, making retailers sensitive to any potential risks.
 
“We removed the product already on March 20,” said Sun Art’s spokeswoman, noting that this was ahead of the Chinese government’s first official comment on the issue.
 
Brazil is the top supplier of beef to China’s mainland, accounting for about 31 percent of imports in the first half of last year.
 
Much of it is used in canteens, while branded Brazilian beef is less prominent in supermarkets than Australian beef.
 
Importers are expected to wait a few more days before seeking out alternative supplies, which will likely be more costly than Brazil’s.
 
“It’s a 45-day lead-time to get any product here. What if they lift the ban by the end of the week?” said an industry source who declined to be identified.
 
Macau has suspended imports from Brazil, the special administrative region’s civil affairs authorities said, as has the Hong Kong SAR.
 
Major Hong Kong supermarket chain PARKnSHOP said it had removed Brazilian pork, beef and chicken from shelves.
 
“To cater for the needs of customers, we will increase the supply of meat and poultry products from other countries,” it said in a statement.
 
Bans are also in place in Japan, Canada, Mexico and Switzerland.
Source: Shanghai Daily, March 23, 2017
OECD sees China growth at 6.5%
22nd March 2017

 

 
CHINA’S economic growth is set to slow to 6.5 percent this year and cool further to 6.3 percent in 2018, the OECD said, though exports are set to pick up as global demand strengthens.
 
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development also warned of China’s ballooning corporate debt in its biannual economic outlook report released yesterday.
 
“In terms of risk, we believe that internally the biggest risk is the accumulated and fast pace of growth of credit both in terms of shadow banking and the banking system,” said Alvaro Santos Pereira, director of the country studies branch of the OECD’s Economics Department. “I think it’s important to intensify efforts to tackle this issue.”
 
China’s corporate debt is about 175 percent of GDP, one of the highest in emerging-market economies, he said, with state-owned enterprises accounting for around 75 percent of that.
 
“One of our top recommendations is to remove implicit guarantees to SOEs and other government and public entities,” said Margit Molnar, head of the China desk at the OECD’s Economics Department.
 
Such guarantees have enabled SOEs and local government investment vehicles to continue accumulating debt, she said.
 
Financial risks in China are mounting because of indebted enterprises, growing non-bank activities and enormous overcapacity, the report said.
 
The OECD’s forecast for 2017 is in line with the Chinese government’s growth target of around 6.5 percent this year, versus last year’s 6.5-7 percent range.
 
The economy grew 6.7 percent in 2016, the slowest pace in 26 years.
 
Some analysts believe the more modest target will give policy-makers more room to tackle debt risks and push through painful reforms, though authorities are expected to proceed cautiously to avoid hurting growth.
 
Economic growth remains high “but is gradually and appropriately moderating as the population ages and the economy rebalances from investment to consumption,” the report said.
 
Export volumes are expected to grow 3.4 percent this year and 3.3 percent next year, up from 2.3 percent in 2016, due to increasing global demand.
 
Import volumes are set to grow 7.7 percent this year and 6 percent in 2018, down from 8.6 percent growth in 2016, as imports used to process exports fall.
 
The world’s second-largest economy needs more innovation, entrepreneurship, effective corporate governance and reform of its state-owned sector, the OECD added.
 
The report did not single out the threat of rising protectionism from the United States but noted that protectionism by some trading partners would hurt Chinese exports.
 
But it said China could mitigate this by signing free trade deals with other partners.
 
“Rising protectionism to the level that some people are talking about — or reversing some of the gains of the last 10, 15 years — is going to be extremely costly to everyone,” Pereira said.
Source: Shanghai Daily, March 22, 2017
China’s power use climbs
21st March 2017

 CHINA’S electricity consumption, an important indicator of economic activity, rose significantly in the first two months of this year, suggesting economic improvement, official data showed yesterday.

 
Power use rose 6.3 percent year on year to 935.6 billion kilowatt-hours in January and February, data with the National Energy Administration showed.
 
In the first two months, electricity use by primary industry climbed 12 percent from a year earlier. Power consumption by secondary industry gained 6.7 percent, while tertiary industry rose 7.3 percent amid economic restructuring.
 
Residential power consumption grew 3.5 percent year on year, which compared with 11.8 percent growth a year earlier, largely due to diminishing usage during the warm winter.
 
The rise in power use in secondary industries, compared with negative growth in the same period of last year, showed continued growth of China’s industrial sector, said experts.
Source: Shanghai Daily, March 21, 20017

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