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News from China
Steel capacity slash for long haul
29th March 2017

 THE task of cutting excessive steel capacity remains arduous as a short-lived price rally could result in steel mills upping production in pursuit of profits and exacerbate the supply glut, according to attendees of a government meeting.

 
Steel overcapacity has not been reversed fundamentally and the recent price rally could result in vulnerabilities, according to a statement released after a meeting held by the National Development and Reform Commission and other relevant departments.
 
China’s steel mills have reported good profits recently as speculators have splurged on higher prices after government pledged to increase spending on infrastructure construction. Market watchers, however, have warned that the price surge was unlikely to be sustainable.
 
China aims to slash steel production capacity by around 50 million tons and coal by at least 150 million tons this year, a key part of the country’s supply-side reform.
 
A ban on inferior steel products and the closure of “zombie enterprises,” firms with surplus capacity, are priorities in the excess capacity reduction drive, according to the statement.
Source: Shanghai Daily, March 29, 2017
Industrial profits up most in nearly 6 years
28th March 2017

 PROFITS at China’s major industrial companies rallied in the first two months of this year to pass the 1 trillion yuan (US$145 billion) mark for the first time on rising commodity prices.

 
Industrial profits surged 31.5 percent year on year in January and February combined — the fastest pace in nearly six years — to 1.02 trillion yuan, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday.
 
That compared with a 2.3 percent rise in December and an 8.5 percent annual increase in 2016.
 
He Ping, a bureau analyst, attributed the soaring growth to higher industrial production, a sharp hike in prices and lower business costs.
 
Coal miners, oil refiners and chemical producers led the increase, which was boosted by soaring raw material prices, He said.
 
Profits of state-owned companies in the commodity industries doubled from a year ago and contributed to half of the overall increase in profits.
 
The increase in industrial profits was due to supply-side reform that eliminated some overcapacity and cut costs for companies,” Bank of Communications said in a note.
 
Producer prices increased at the fastest pace since 2008 in February on the back of stronger demand and government-mandated reductions in excess capacity.
 
The Producer Price Index, a measure of factory gate inflation, rose 6.9 percent in January and 7.8 percent in February boosted by strong raw material prices.
 
However, most economists and even the statistics bureau believe price gains may soon start to slow.
 
“The base effects are not going to be as flattering in coming quarters. We’re going to see a decline in profit growth and producer price inflation from now onwards,” says Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist at Capital Economics in Singapore.
 
“We shouldn’t get too excited about some of these growth rates.”
 
Liabilities of industrial companies rose 6.6 percent year on year as of end-February.
 
The statistics bureau gives combined figures for the first two months of each year to smooth out seasonal distortions caused by the long Chinese New Year holidays, when most companies shut down for a week or more.
Source: Shanghai Daily, March 28, 2017
Forum drives globalization initiative
27th March 2017

 AN initiative on economic globalization was announced at the end of the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) yesterday in Hainan Province.

 
The aim of the forum is to promote and deepen the economic exchange, coordination, and cooperation within Asia and between Asia and other parts of the world, according to the initiative.
 
Addressing pressures on global growth and the increase in de-globalization and protectionism, the initiative asks Asian countries to stay committed to open markets, inclusive growth and economic cooperation.
 
The initiative called upon the world to actively adapt to the forces of economic globalization and reform global governance to solve problems arising amid globalization.
 
Specific measures were proposed by BFA members through the initiative.
 
Governments should make more efforts to reform and work together to strengthen international economic order and global governance systems, with policies to ensure benefits are more widely shared.
 
Protectionism has to be rejected. Trade and investment should be promoted to drive sustainable global development, with continued reform of multilateral mechanisms and governance.
 
International and regional organizations such as the WTO and APEC should work toward a more open, inclusive, fair and equitable bilateral and multilateral trade system.
 
Multilateral lenders, including the IMF and World Bank, were urged to improve supervision of global finance, supporting cross-border capital flows and working to lessen impacts on the real economy.
 
Innovation was highlighted in the initiative. Governments should use cross-border public private partnerships to facilitate technological innovation and cross-border movement of knowledge and information.
 
BFA members proposed an open mechanism for multilateral cooperation to ensure balance in globalization, calling for efforts from the G20, the APEC, governments and the private sector.
Source: Shanghai Daily, March 27, 2017
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

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