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News from China
China's trade surplus narrows 21.8% in Q1
13th April 2018
 
China's goods trade surplus shrank 21.8 percent in the first quarter of this year as the country saw a better balance of trade, customs data showed on Friday.
 
China's goods exports rose 7.4 percent year on year in the first three months while imports grew 11.7 percent, resulting in a trade surplus of 326.18 billion yuan (US$51.85 billion), according to the General Administration of Customs.
 
Total foreign trade volume expanded 9.4 percent to 6.75 trillion yuan in the first quarter from the same period last year.
 
Huang Songping, a spokesperson with the GAC, told a press briefing that the relatively fast trade growth was a result of a mild global economic recovery that has given rise to robust trading activities, as well as the sound development of the domestic economy, which has strengthened demand for imports.
 
Steady progress in the Belt and Road Initiative and stronger trading with emerging markets also supported the first-quarter growth, Huang said, as trade volume with Belt and Road countries jumped 12.9 percent in the three-month period, 3.5 percentage points faster than the overall increase.
 
Trade with countries along the Belt and Road reached 1.86 trillion yuan, accounting for 27.5 percent of China's total foreign trade in the first quarter, according to Huang.
 
The European Union, the United States and ASEAN were the top three trading partners of China, which together accounted for 41.2 percent of foreign trade.
 
From January to March, trade between China and the United States rose 13 percent in dollar-denominated terms, with Chinese exports to the United States increased 14.8 percent and the China-US trade surplus standing at 58.25 billion dollars.
 
Chinese private enterprises played a bigger role in trade by contributing 38.3 percent to total trade, up 1.7 percentage points compared with the first quarter of 2017.
 
The country's less developed regions, including central and western China, all outpaced the national average trade growth in the January-March period.
 
Huang said he sees rising pressure and challenges for the global economy and international trade in the second quarter stemming from global uncertainties and intensifying protectionism.
 
Fiercer competition in the global manufacturing sector will also pose challenges for China's foreign trade, he said.
 
But Huang said he expects China's foreign trade will maintain an upward trend as the country has pledged to take measures to further open up its market and expand imports.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 13, 2018
Central bank governor gives details, timetable on financial opening-up
11th April 2018

 

 
Yi Gang, Governor of the People's Bank of China, China's central bank, arrives for the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2018 at the BFA International Convention Center in Boao, south China's Hainan Province, on April 10, 2018.
 
China's central bank governor on Wednesday fleshed out measures and disclosed a timetable to further open up the financial sector, signaling fast progress in implementing the country's opening-up promises.
 
China will encourage foreign investors to enter its trust, financial leasing, auto finance, money brokerage and consumer finance sectors, a move to take effect before the end of this year, said Yi Gang, governor of the People's Bank of China, at the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference in the southern Hainan Province.
 
No foreign ownership limits will be set for new financial asset investment and wealth management companies initiated by commercial banks, he said.
 
China will also "substantially expand the business scope of foreign banks," and impose no restrictions on the business scope of joint-venture securities companies, Yi said.
 
In addition, the country will remove the requirement that foreign insurance companies must have had representative offices for two years before they set up businesses in China, he said.
 
All these measures will come into force before the end of this year, Yi told a panel discussion, noting that the country will also try to launch the Shanghai-London stock connect program within this year.
 
The opening policies in the following six areas will be implemented in the coming months, according to the governor.
 
First, foreign equity restrictions on banks and financial asset management firms will be canceled, with equal treatment for domestic and foreign-funded institutions. Foreign banks will be allowed to set up branches and subsidiaries at the same time in the country.
 
Second, foreign businesses will be allowed to own up to 51 percent of shares in securities, funds, futures and life insurance joint ventures, and the cap will be phased out over three years.
 
Third, securities joint ventures will not be required to have at least one securities firm among its domestic shareholders.
 
Fourth, daily quotas for the stock connect schemes between the mainland and Hong Kong will be quadrupled starting from May 1.
 
Fifth, qualified foreign investors will be allowed to conduct insurance brokerage and assessment business in the country.
 
Sixth, foreign-funded insurance brokers will have the same business scope as their Chinese counterparts do.
 
Source: Xinhua, April, 11, 2018
China to reduce tariffs, expand imports
10th April 2018

 Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday China will significantly lower the import tariffs for vehicles and reduce import tariffs for some other products this year.

 
"We will take the initiative to expand imports," Xi said in a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference held in the southern island province of Hainan.
 
The country will work hard to import more products that are competitive and needed by the Chinese people, he said.
 
China will also seek faster progress toward joining the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, according to the president.
 
"China does not seek trade surplus; we have a genuine desire to increase imports and achieve greater balance of international payments under the current account," he said.
 
Speaking of the first China International Import Expo to be held in Shanghai this November, Xi said friends from around the world are welcome to participate in the Expo.
 
"It is not just another expo in an ordinary sense, but a major policy initiative and commitment taken of our own accord to open up the Chinese market," he said.
 
Meanwhile, China hopes developed countries will stop imposing restrictions on normal and reasonable trade of high-tech products and relax export controls on such trade with China, according to the president.
Source: Xinhua, April 10, 2018
China's power consumption surges fastest over past five years in first two months
9th April 2018
China’s power consumption rose the fastest over the past five years during January and February as industrial growth accelerated, the National Development and Reform Commission said on Sunday.
 
In the first two months, 1.06 trillion kilowatt-hours of power were consumed, up 13.3 percent from a year ago to hit the highest rate over the past five years, China's top economic planner said.
 
While electricity consumption gained across several sectors, “the industrial sector is the key to drive power use” as it  contributed 55.6 percent to the growth by rising 11.2 percent from a year ago.
 
The consumption growth occurred after China’s industrial output expanded 7.2 percent year on year in the two months, accelerating from the 6.2 percent rise in December 2017 and quicker than the 6.3 percent gain during the same period last year, the NDRC added.    
 
Power consumption by advanced manufacturing, including information and communications technologies, “grew rapidly in the past year,” with electronics producers seeing a 18.5 percent growth year on year, while power use by software and communications firms surged 19.4 percent from a year ago, the NDRC said.
 
By contrast, power use by high energy-consumption steel, building materials, nonferrous metal and chemicals producers grew slowly from last year, down 3.4 percentage points.
 
Over the first quarter China generated 10 percent more electricity from a year ago to 1.57 trillion kilowatt-hours, according to the NDRC.
 
Power generation is forecast to grow rapidly in April as power supply has surged 10.04 percent year on year during the first six days of this month, the NDRC said.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 9, 2018

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