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News from China
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
Meat from Brazil taken off shelves
23rd March 2017

 SOME of China’s largest food suppliers have pulled Brazilian beef and poultry from their shelves in the first concrete sign that a deepening scandal over Brazil’s meat processing industry is hitting business in its top export market.

 
The moves by Sun Art Retail Group, China’s biggest hypermarket chain, and the Chinese arms of global retail giants Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Metro AG come days after China temporarily suspended Brazilian meat imports.
 
Safety fears over Brazilian meat have grown since police accused inspectors in the world’s biggest exporter of beef and poultry of taking bribes to allow sales of rotten and salmonella-tainted meats.
 
A spokeswoman for Sun Art Retail, which operates 400 Chinese hypermarkets, said yesterday that the chain removed beef supplied by top Brazilian exporters BRF SA and JBS SA from its shelves on Monday. Brazilian beef accounts for less than 10 percent of Sun Art’s beef supply, she said.
 
Wal-Mart has also removed Brazilian meat products from its stores, a person familiar with the matter said. He declined to be quoted.
 
Germany’s Metro has withdrawn Brazilian chicken legs and wings from its Chinese stores, said a manager, who declined to be named. The retailer, with 84 stores in China’s mainland, does not sell Brazilian beef.
 
JD.com, one of China’s biggest online retailers, said in an e-mailed statement that it had removed all listings for imported Brazilian meat and is reviewing orders in process.
 
While Brazilian officials sought to reassure consumers that the investigation had revealed only isolated incidents of sanitary problems, the reaction by Chinese retailers suggests that the probe could have far-reaching repercussions.
 
Chinese consumers appeared largely unconcerned or unaware of the scandal in Brazil, with few people commenting on the issue on social media networks.
 
But the country has been hit by its own safety scandals in the past, making retailers sensitive to any potential risks.
 
“We removed the product already on March 20,” said Sun Art’s spokeswoman, noting that this was ahead of the Chinese government’s first official comment on the issue.
 
Brazil is the top supplier of beef to China’s mainland, accounting for about 31 percent of imports in the first half of last year.
 
Much of it is used in canteens, while branded Brazilian beef is less prominent in supermarkets than Australian beef.
 
Importers are expected to wait a few more days before seeking out alternative supplies, which will likely be more costly than Brazil’s.
 
“It’s a 45-day lead-time to get any product here. What if they lift the ban by the end of the week?” said an industry source who declined to be identified.
 
Macau has suspended imports from Brazil, the special administrative region’s civil affairs authorities said, as has the Hong Kong SAR.
 
Major Hong Kong supermarket chain PARKnSHOP said it had removed Brazilian pork, beef and chicken from shelves.
 
“To cater for the needs of customers, we will increase the supply of meat and poultry products from other countries,” it said in a statement.
 
Bans are also in place in Japan, Canada, Mexico and Switzerland.
Source: Shanghai Daily, March 23, 2017

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