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News from China
China's industrial profits return to growth
28th March 2016

Profits of China's major industrial firms rose 4.8 percent year on year in the first two months of 2016, reversing the downward trend of last year, official data showed Sunday.

Profits at industrial companies with annual revenues of more than 20 million yuan (about 3.1 million U.S. dollars) totaled 780.7 billion yuan in the Jan.-Feb. period, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.

The profits registered a 4.7 percent year-on-year fall in December and a 2.3 percent annual decrease in 2015.

He Ping, an official with the NBS Department of Industry, attributed the latest profit growth to increased sales and a milder decline in factory product prices.

In the first two months, revenues from the firms' primary business climbed 1 percent year on year, improving from a 0.6 percent drop in December 2015 and a 0.8 percent increase for last year.

In the Jan.-Feb. period, China's producer price index, which measures prices of goods at factory gate, slipped 5.1 percent year on year, narrowing from a drop of 5.9 percent in December and 5.2 percent for 2015.

Despite the recovery, part of the industrial profit growth was a result of the lower base in the same period of last year, He noted.

Industrial profits dipped 4.2 percent year on year in the Jan.-Feb. period of 2015, NBS data showed.

Compared with the same period of 2014, the Jan.-Feb. industrial profits of this year only inched up 0.4 percent, said He.

Source: Xinhua
China makes gains, faces hurdles in extending financial services
25th March 2016

 By removing systematic blocks and adopting new technology, China will be able to expand access to financial services to all people, according to experts at the Boao Forum conference.

Recent changes by China's rural and private financial institutions will help relieve obstacles to inclusive finance, which have held back the nation's anti-poverty efforts, according to experts at the 2016 Annual Conference of the Boao Forum for Asia, held in China's island province of Hainan.
With a bad loan rate of 88.3 percent, Hainan Rural Credit Union, a rural credit cooperative in Hainan, was on the verge of collapse in 2007. Over the past nine years, the cooperative has focused on rural microcredit, lending a total of 23 billion yuan (about 3.5 billion U.S. dollars) to Hainan's 600,000 rural households. The non-performing loan rate has dropped to less than 2 percent.
Thanks to financial education and agricultural training provided to borrowers, Wu Weixiong, board chairman of Hainan Rural Credit Union, isn't worried about the 23 billion yuan in loans his cooperative has made to the island's rural population.
"Our staff are experts in both finance and agriculture, which enables them to help farmers acquire necessary knowledge and techniques to make a living and pay back the loan," he told attendees at the "Inclusive Finance" Boao sub-forum.
Private financial institutions are also making financial services much more accessible to people who are underserved by traditional banks. Ant Financial, a financial arm established last June by the E-commerce giant Alibaba, has lent a total of 45 billion yuan to farmers, online merchants, restaurant owners and mom-and-pop stores, extending loans to 800,000 borrowers who have trouble accessing financial services.
Despite the efforts, a large proportion of the population still lacks access to financing, according to the experts.
"The core of the problem is that inclusive financing is badly needed by rural people," said Dong Wenbiao, board chairman of China Minsheng Investment Corp. Ltd., the nation's largest private equity firm.
The nation still has 55.75 million impoverished people in rural areas, official statistics showed.
Dong blamed "serious systematic deficiency" for the problem, saying that China's existing financial establishments, including the banking and insurance systems, don't support expanding access to finance. Large banks are inclined to lend to big companies with lower risk.
The lack of an individual credit system, high operational costs and risks, and the absence of an information-sharing mechanism have all worsened the situation, according to Li Yang, vice director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Inclusive finance will play a key role in China's goal of building a "well-off society" by 2020. The nation's financial industry should make itself available to all people, said Wu Xiaoling, vice chairwoman of the Financial and Economic Committee of the National People's Congress and former vice governor of the central bank.
More than 50 countries have set formal targets and goals for inclusive finance in recent years, indicating growing global recognition that access to financial services plays a critical role in reducing extreme poverty, boosting shared prosperity, and supporting sustainable development.
To clear hurdles, the State Council in January released the 2016-2020 Plan on the Development of Inclusive Finance, China's first national strategic plan on financial inclusion. It targeted building inclusive financial service and security systems that provide reasonably-priced, convenient and secure services to small companies, farmers, low-income urban households, the poor, the disabled and the elderly. It vowed to boost inclusive finance's development to a level comparable to the global average by 2020.
The government also reiterated in a report in March the development of inclusive finance to increase services for micro, small, and medium-sized businesses as well as for rural areas.
"To tackle the issue, systematic reforms are required," said Dong, suggesting that farmers should be endowed with land rights that can be viewed as assets when obtaining loans.
Ellen Richey, vice chairwoman of Risk and Public Policy at Visa Inc., said that China already has an advantage in fostering inclusive finance, as 79 percent of its residents have financial accounts, much higher than most countries. But account holders generally only use them for basic banking services or use them infrequently.
"The challenge to inclusive finance in China is not necessarily to get someone an account, but to give them an efficient way to use it," she said, adding that electronic payment and mobile phones will enable China to bypass expensive investment in infrastructure, such as terminals and telecommunications.
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Jenny Shipley called on lenders to form trust relationships based on human potential, rather than just looking at assets. Shipley said that micro-finance requires collaboration between multiple players, including governments, financial institutions and NGOs. 
Mu Xuequan
Source: Xinhua
New rules on cross-border e-trade mulled
23rd March 2016

 THE Ministry of Commerce yesterday said it is seeking opinion from the public on cross-border e-commerce trade in an effort to strengthen regulations in the booming sector.

The draft version of the “Business Services Specification for Cross-border Commodity E-commerce” was posted on the ministry’s website. It stipulates specific rules that online sellers have to observe in the event of compensations or refunds demanded by buyers. Sellers will also be responsible for the quality and services of the products sold on their platforms and should provide the buyer with relevant new parts or equipment in case the sold products malfunctions. The losses incurred by the buyer would be compensated by online sellers.

The quality guarantee period will also be extended.

Online sellers will also draw up contracts with the buyer for the products as well as for their deliveries.

The trade platforms would also manage the transaction information and relevant personal information in a securely and encrypted manner and shall not disclose these information unless under proper authorization.

The draft will be available for the public’s response until May 31.

The rules for mobile e-commerce were also released yesterday.

Source: Shanghai Daily, March 23, 2016
China clarifies new five-year plan at key forum
22nd March 2016
 Chinese policymakers illustrated how to carry out the newly released 13th Five-Year Plan, showing confidence on sustained growth in the next five years at a forum.
The two-day China Development Forum, which ended here on Monday, was an annual event initiated by the Development Research Center of the State Council, a government think tank, in 2000.
It was eye-catching this year as 2016 is the start of the plan, having attracted not only officials, academics and entrepreneurs, but also heads of international organizations such as IMF managing director Christine Lagarde and leaders of heavyweight companies such as Facebook.
Source: Xinhua

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