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News from China
Cooperation key to revival of global trade
23rd October 2020

 The application of technology, growth of cross-border services, innovation in trade policy and trade-related infrastructure development can serve as catalysts for global trade, which was battered by protectionism and COVID-19, according to a report released by Dubai’s DMCC free zone on Thursday.

According to the “Future of Trade” report, geopolitical tensions and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will define the trade landscape of the 2020s.
“While the pandemic has caused the fastest and deepest economic shock in history, it has already significantly shaped the future of trade by accelerating trends such as digitalization, the recalibration of global supply chains and a reconsideration of the role of national security in trade policy,” it said.
Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman and chief executive officer of DMCC, said global trade needs cross-border cooperation for a revival, which can be facilitated by technologies.
“Despite the evident economic uncertainty of the time, one thing is certain – the future of trade, and indeed the future of the economic recovery, relies heavily on global cooperation. Finding common ground and collectively making the case for international trade will be key determining factors of success,” he said.
Feryal Ahmadi, chief operating officer at DMCC, said global trade order is at a tipping point in 2020 that will define the decade ahead.
“If businesses and governments are willing to collaborate to overcome some of the barriers at hand, the outcome will be a positive one. Innovation, not just in supply chains, but in the way trade policies are shaped and partnerships are formed, also has a crucial role to play here,” Ahmadi said. “Ultimately, the key to boosting global trade comes down to collaboration and the willingness to forge new ways of working together.”
DMCC is an entity owned by the Dubai government which runs the DMCC Free Zone in Dubai. So far, more than 540 Chinese companies have established a presence in Dubai’s free trade zone, including industry leaders such as Hisense, China Petroleum and Chemical Corp, China Harbour Engineering Co and Power Construction Corp of China.
In January, the China Business Center was established under the DMCC, with a dedicated mandarin-speaking team to assist Chinese companies set up in the zone.
Source: Shanghai Daily,October 23, 2020
PBOC's Yi talks up prudent monetary policy
22nd October 2020

 China will strike a balance between stabilizing economic growth and preventing risks, even as debt was allowed to temporarily rise this year to support the coronavirus-hit economy, the head of the central bank, Yi Gang, said on Wednesday.

Yi, the governor of the People’s Bank of China, told the Annual Conference of Financial Street Forum 2020 in Beijing that he expected China’s macro leverage ratio to stabilize next year as the economy expands, after the debt gauge rose in 2020.
Bank lending in the first nine months hit 16.26 trillion yuan (US$2.44 trillion) as policy-makers looked to reboot economic activity, beating a previous peak of 13.63 trillion yuan in the same period last year.
“Monetary policy needs to guard the ‘gates’ of money supply, properly smooth out fluctuations in the macro leverage ratio, and keep it on a reasonable track in the long run,” Yi said.
In July, Ruan Jianhong, head of the PBOC’s statistics department, said that the country’s macro leverage ratio jumped 14.5 percentage points in the first quarter and climbed further in the second quarter.
The macro leverage ratio is a measurement of the debt held by Chinese governments, households and firms divided by total gross domestic product.
The Institute for International Finance said in July that China’s debt-to-GDP ratio was on track to hit 335 percent, from nearly 318 percent in the first quarter.
At the same forum, PBOC Vice Governor Pan Gongsheng said that the central bank had prepared a draft to improve macro prudential assessments, which measure weaknesses in financial systems, for the property finance sector.
The PBOC will look into indicators including the concentration ratio of property loans, the ratio of household debt to total income, and the risk-weighting of property loans, said Pan.
A list of China’s systemically important banks, and detailed regulations for them, will be revealed in the near term.
China will continue to implement and perfect the financial measures that have effectively reduced the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and extend sustained support to micro and small businesses, the job market as well as green development, said Yi.
Also at the forum, Vice Premier Liu He said the economy will very likely grow this year, adding that prudent monetary policy should be kept appropriate and flexible, and liquidity reasonably ample.
On Monday, China reported that its GDP grew 0.7 percent in January to September from a year earlier, versus a contraction of 1.6 percent in the first half following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
On Sunday, the PBOC’s Yi said full-year GDP will likely grow by about 2 percent.
That would make China the only major economy expected to report growth in 2020, though it would be the country’s weakest annual expansion since 1976.
Speaking on a separate panel at Wednesday's forum, Yi warned that financial technology, while making services more convenient, has created data gaps and faces problems when it comes to protecting business secrets and personal privacy.
Public and government information “must be more transparent ... (but) what must be protected must be protected,” he insisted.
Source: Shanghai Daily, October 22, 2020
China sees recovering toy export market as pandemic wanes
21st October 2020

 China, the world's biggest toy exporter, has seen a recovering classical toy export market since July, as the country is striving to resume production following its containment of COVID-19.

China exported US$3.54 billion worth of classical toys in July, up 21.2 percent year-on-year, according to the China Toy & Juvenile Products Association. The figure rose to US$3.94 billion in August and then US$4.11 billion in September, up 2.6 percent and 7.9 percent year-on-year, respectively.
China's classical toy exports edged down 1.9 percent year-on-year during the January-September period, with the decline narrowing from 12.1 percent in the first six months, data showed.
According to customs classification, classical toys include animal toys, dolls, educational toys, wheeled toys, toy cars, and power-driven toys and models. The category is important for China's toy export market.
Liang Mei, president of the association, said Chinese toy enterprises are trying to take advantage of new changes and demands and are seeking new opportunities to expand their international markets.
The recovery is of great significance to stabilizing economic development and employment in 20 major toy manufacturing regions in China including Guangdong, Zhejiang and Shandong.
Source: Shanghai Daily, October 21, 2020
Chinese economy continues on recovery road
20th October 2020

 China's economy saw a further recovery in September, especially in the services sector, with positive growth for the first three quarters that was reversing the negative figure for the first half of 2020.

The nation's gross domestic product in the first three quarters reached 72.28 trillion yuan (US$10.8 trillion), an increase of 0.7 percent from the same period last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics onon Monday.
The first quarter saw GDP tumbling 6.8 percent year on year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second quarter then started to recover, with a 3.2 percent rebound, while GDP for the July-September period grew by 4.9 percent.
September activity data suggested the pace of recovery of major economic activity was on track.
Growth of industrial production and retail sales quickened to 6.9 percent and 3.3 percent year on year in September from 5.6 percent and 0.5 percent in August.
In the first three quarters, Chinese authorities coordinated pandemic prevention and control work and promoted economic and social development, said Liu Aihua, a spokeswoman for the NBS.
"China’s quick recovery was a product of its stringent lockdowns, massive testing, population tracking, a large economy that can afford to be somewhat insulated, and fiscal stimulus via credit expansion," said Lu Ting, chief China economist of financial services company Nomura.
Strong export growth, a further recovery from the pandemic, the lagged impact of fiscal stimulus and credit growth and pent-up demand following the summer floods all contributed to the robust activity data in September, Lu added.
Industrial output rose further by 6.9 percent year on year in September from 5.6 percent in August, much stronger than market expectations. Among upstream sectors, year-on-year industrial production growth in the manufacturing and mining sectors rose to 7.6 percent year on year and 2.2 percent in September from 6 percent and 1.6 percent in August, while industrial output growth in the utilities sector fell to 4.5 percent year on year from 5.8 percent over the same period.
In the first nine months, industrial production rose 1.2 percent year on year, compared with the 1.3 percent decline in the first half. The third quarter’s year-on-year increase of 5.8 percent, which was 1.4 percentage points faster than that in the second quarter, mainly offset the first quarter’s 8.4-percent slump.
Production in the services sector, meanwhile, rose 4.3 percent in the third quarter year on year, compared with the 1.9 percent growth in the first quarter.
Modern services industries showed strong growth momentum in January-September, Liu said. Production of the information transmission, software and information technology services sector, and the financial services sector increased by 15.9 percent and 7 percent, up 1.4 percentage points and 0.4 percentage points from the first half.
The bureau also highlighted the recovery in retail sales, especially the rapid growth in online retail.
Headline retail sales growth in nominal terms rose significantly to 3.3 percent year on year in September from 0.5 percent in August, stronger than the market consensus. In real terms (excluding price factors), retail sales growth jumped to 2.4 percent year on year in September from the 0.6 percent drop in August, the first positive monthly print this year.
For the first quarters, retail sales added up to 27.33 trillion yuan, down 7.2 percent year on year but the drop was largely narrowed from the 11.4 percent decline in the first half of 2020.
The figure for the third quarter grew 0.9 percent from a year earlier, which was this year's first positive quarterly growth in retail sales.
"We expect retail sales growth to gradually recover further in coming months barring a second wave of COVID-19 in China," Nomura's Lu said.
Fixed-asset investment growth, however, moderated on weaker infrastructure and manufacturing investment, inching down to 7.5 percent year on year in September from 7.6 percent in August, taking its year-to-date growth to 0.8 percent year on year.
"The September moderation was led mainly by infrastructure and manufacturing investment. However, we expect infrastructure investment to accelerate, as the government could ramp up its spending of the proceeds from bond issuance in previous months, while manufacturing investment may remain subdued amid elevated uncertainties surrounding US-China relations," Lu said.
The bureau's Liu said stabilizing employment is one of the key tasks for the year. In the first nine months, 8.98 million new urban jobs had been created nationwide, achieving 99.8 percent of the target for the year.
In September, the unemployment rate in the national urban survey was 5.4 percent, 0.2 percentage points lower than in the previous month. The 31 major cities surveyed posted an unemployment rate of 5.5 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from August. By the end of the third quarter, there were 179.52 million rural migrant workers.
"In general, China's economy did show a sustained and steady recovery in the first three quarters of this year. However, while we fully see an improving trend, we should also be reminded that the current epidemic situation outside China is still severe and the international environment is unstable and uncertain," Liu said.
For the next stage, Liu highlighted the importance of further ensuring stability and security, deepening reform and opening-up, helping enterprises alleviate difficulties, smoothing the economic cycle, and laying a solid foundation for ensuring people’s livelihoods, striving to achieve the goals and tasks of economic and social development for the year.
Source: Shanghai Daily, October 20, 2020

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