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News from China
Thousands stranded as UK budget carrier suddenly shuts
18th February 2019

 Hundreds of passengers throughout Europe have been stranded by the abrupt collapse of British regional airline Flybmi.

 
British Midland Regional Limited, which operates as Flybmi, said it’s filing for administration — a British version of bankruptcy — because of higher fuel costs and uncertainty caused by Britain’s upcoming departure from the European Union.
 
“Current trading and future prospects have also been seriously affected by the uncertainty created by the Brexit process, which has led to our inability to secure valuable flying contracts in Europe and a lack of confidence around bmi’s ability to continue flying between destinations in Europe,” the airline said on its website late Saturday.
 
The airline thanked workers for their dedication and said “it is with a heavy heart that we have made this unavoidable announcement.”
 
The airline operated 17 jets on routes to 25 European cities. It employed 376 people in Britain, Germany, Sweden and Belgium and says it carried 522,000 passengers on 29,000 flights last year.
 
Pilots union chief Brian Strutton said the airline’s collapse came with no warning and “is devastating news for all employees.”
 
“Our immediate steps will be to support Flybmi pilots and explore with the directors and administrators whether their jobs can be saved,” he said.
 
Britain is scheduled to leave the EU on March 29 but there are serious doubts about whether the British Parliament will approval the Brexit withdrawal deal that Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated with the EU. That is making it more difficult for businesses to plan for the separation.
 
Flybmi said all flights will be canceled and advised passengers to seek refunds from credit card issuers, travel agents or travel insurance companies.
 
Passengers were told not to travel to the airport yesterday unless they had made arrangements directly with other airlines. Flybmi said it would not be rescheduling passengers on other airlines’ flights.
 
Many passengers were left stranded by the shutdown. Hannah Price told Sky News she was planning to return Monday to Britain from Brussels on Flybmi.
 
“Unfortunately for me, I was supposed to be flying home with them in less than 48 hours to Bristol. I don’t think that’s going to happen now,” she said.
 
The collapse will have a major impact on the Northern Ireland city of Derry, also known as Londonderry, which will lose its only air connection to London. Local officials said they were urgently seeking a new carrier to keep the link open.
 
Flybmi was still seeking customers until the day before its collapse, urging people in a tweet to book flights to Germany for a winter sports holiday.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, February 18, 2019
China's producer prices up 0.1% in January
15th February 2019

 China's producer price index, which measures costs for goods at the factory gate, edged up 0.1 percent year on year in January, the National Bureau of Statistics said Friday.

 
It was down from a growth of 0.9 percent recorded in December.
 
The prices of means of production entered the negative zone, edging down 0.1 percent year on year last month, according to the NBS.
 
Of major industrial sectors, the PPI in oil and natural gas exploration dipped 5 percent, compared with an increase in December.
 
The PPI for non-ferrous metal smelting and rolling declined 3.5 percent, a sharper decrease than the 2.3-percent fall recorded in December.
 
On a month-on-month basis, the country's PPI slipped 0.6 percent in January, a milder decline than the 1-percent drop recorded in December, according to the NBS.
 
Last year, China's PPI rose 3.5 percent, down from the 6.3-percent growth in 2017.
 
Friday's data also showed a 1.7-percent year-on-year rise in the country's consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, in January, down from a 1.9-percent increase for December.
Source: Shanghai Daily, February 15, 2019
Positive policies and opening-up fire trade growth
13th February 2019
China has confidence in its ability to maintain stable trade growth in 2019 thanks to a raft of positive factors, a senior commerce official said on Tuesday.
 
“Looking ahead, despite the complex environment, we still see many favorable factors for the stable development of foreign trade in 2019,” Chu Shijia, head of the comprehensive department of the Ministry of Commerce, told a conference.
 
The gradual recovery of the global economy, China’s opening-up efforts and pro-trade policies, accelerating industrial upgrading and improving corporate vitality will lend strong steam to the country’s trade growth this year, Chu said.
 
The ministry’s data showed China’s foreign trade in goods surged faster than expected to a record high last year.
 
The country’s goods trade totaled US$4.6 trillion last year, up 12.6 percent year on year, faster than that of major trading nations. It made China the world’s largest trader in goods.
 
The country also saw improving trade structure last year, with growing trade with Belt and Road countries, more high-end exports and accelerating imports growth.
 
Trade with the countries along the Belt and Road rose to 27.4 percent of the total.
 
The proportion of imports and exports in the central and western regions increased to 15.8 percent. The proportion of exports of mechanical and electrical products rose to 58.7 percent.
 
The private sector accounted for 48 percent of total exports, making it the largest single source of exports, the ministry said.
 
And China has continued to push foreign trade growth and improve the business environment to encourage the development of new businesses.
 
The world’s second-largest economy set up 22 new comprehensive pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce and launched six trial projects for market procurement last year.
 
According to World Trade Organization statistics, China’s share of global imports increased by 0.7 percentage points to 10.9 percent in the first three quarters of 2018, and the country’s contribution to global import growth was 16.8 percent.
 
In particular, last year’s inaugural China International Import Expo provided new opportunities for countries and regions around the world to expand exports to China and injected new impetus into world economic growth.
 
Chu also revealed that goods trade continued the upward growth momentum in January.
 
In terms of transnational direct investment, global transnational direct investment fell 19 percent in 2018 from a year earlier — the third consecutive annual decline and hitting the lowest level since the global financial crisis, according to a recent report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development.
 
China’s actual use of foreign capital last year was US$134.97 billion, an increase of 3 percent from 2017, achieving the goal of stabilizing foreign investment in line with the government’s efforts to promote the optimization of the investment environment, said Tang Wenhong, director of the ministry’s department of foreign investment administration.
 
“In 2019, the Ministry of Commerce will continue to relax market access and will constantly strengthen the protection of the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors to create a world-class environment for foreign investment,” Tang said.
Source: Shanghai Daily, February 13, 2019
Expanded free trade zone to have global influence
12th February 2019

 Shanghai will coordinate with state-level authorities to draft and implement plans for an expansion of the city’s free trade zone as one of the city government’s top priorities for the first quarter, Mayor Ying Yong said on Monday.

 
Companies in the new area will be given preferential policies to conduct offshore trading, offshore financing and digital trading. The area is expected to have global influence and competitiveness, the mayor said at a government meeting.
 
The city will also help quality companies nationwide list with the planned technology innovation board on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, while fostering local innovation-driven startups.
 
“We will embrace challenges, take active measures to counter risks, and grasp all opportunities to pave the way for high-quality growth,” Ying said.
 
“We will take every possible means to stabilize employment, the financial sector, trade, foreign investment as well as growth expectations.”
 
China is drafting a guideline for the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta region, and the city will join hands with other provinces in the region to create a demonstration zone for the initiative, he said.
 
The mayor also said Shanghai will step up support policies for private enterprises based in the city, while further improving the business environment by considerably lowering taxes and fees.
 
As for the life of local people, the city will ensure plans on air, water and soil quality proceed smoothly, while carrying out domestic waste sorting all over the city, the mayor said.
 
Community health care, education and elderly care will be high on the government agenda as part of efforts to improve people’s livelihood, he said.
 
Consumption will be leveraged to drive economic growth, and the city will also ensure the success of the second China International Import Expo to expand its positive influence on the economy, Ying said.
 
“Shanghai is the country’s largest economic center and is at the forefront of reform and opening-up,” Ying said.
 
“As a megacity, we must take preemptive measures to avoid any potential systematic and regional major risks.
 
“We must give top priority to sustaining growth as we focus on doing our own work as well as possible,” he added.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, February 12. 2019

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