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News from China
March CPI surges to 5-month high
12th April 2019

 China’s consumer inflation quickened last month, coming in at a five-month high, while factory-gate inflation picked up for the first time in nine months. 

 
The Consumer Price index, a main gauge of inflation, grew 2.3 percent in March from a year earlier, 0.8 percentage points faster than the previous month, the national Bureau of statistics said yesterday. 
 
The March figure was the highest since October and rebounded beyond 2 percent for the first time since December. Pork prices rose in March for the first time after falling for 25 consecutive months, leading to higher food prices and boosting the CPI growth. 
 
Pork prices jumped 5.1 percent year on year, reversing the 4.8 percent decline in February. it led to a 0.12-percentage-point increase in overall CPI growth. 
 
On a month-on-month basis, the pork price moderately went up 1.2 percent nationwide as outbreaks of african swine fever were gradually contained, according to the statistics bureau. 
 
Financial service group Nomura paid particular attention to the pork prices in its analysis.
 
“Pork prices are set to become a major source of CPI inflation this year as the stock of hog stocks and breeding sows have fallen to historically low levels,” said the Nomura. 
 
Food prices jumped 4.1 percent year on year last month, contributing to a 0.82-percentage-point rise in the overall CPI growth. 
 
The pace of increase was also much faster than the 0.7 percent recorded in February. The prices of vegetables and fruits surged 16.2 percent and 7.7 percent year on year, respectively. 
 
The sharp increase of vegetable prices can be attributed to low yields in spring and cold rainy weather. non-food prices posted an increase of 1.8 percent year on year last month, contributing to a 1.46-percentage-point increase in the overall CPI growth. 
 
On a month-on-month basis, the CPI dipped 0.4 percent in March, compared with the 1 percent growth in February, with food prices down 0.9 percent and non-food prices shedding 0.2 percent. 
 
Prices of eggs, aquatic products and vegetables declined after the spring Festival by 6 percent, 3.6 percent and 2.6 percent respectively. 
 
Beef, lamb and chicken prices also fell by 1.8 percent, 1.7 percent and 1.6 percent from a month earlier. among non-food sectors, with the shrinking number of travelers after the Spring Festival, the prices of air tickets, travel agency charges and hotel accommodation dropped by 15.9 percent, 11.1 percent and 1.5 percent respectively. 
 
Prices for vehicle repair and maintenance, housekeeping services and haircuts fell 5.3 percent, 4.1 percent and 3.9 percent respectively, with workers returning to the cities. 
 
The Producer Price index, which measures costs of goods at the factory gate, rose 0.4 percent year on year in March, 0.3 percentage points faster than the previous month. 
 
This marked the first acceleration in PPI growth since June, with the market fear over deflation risks largely abated, according to an analysis of the Bank of Communications. Despite the high base a year earlier, the prices of mining-related products rose 4.2 percent in March, the highest since November. 
 
The prices of raw materials also improved from a 1.5 percent drop in February to rise 0.6 percent in March. The trend is consistent with the jump in the factory output index in the manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ index, the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group said. 
 
Prices of the hot-rolled coil have also breached 4,000 yuan (US$595) per ton as producers responded to rising iron ore prices due to Brazilian supply disruptions, according to the ANZ Group. 
 
“China’s inflation data for March indicate that the supply shocks faced on the consumer and producer fronts have helped to mitigate deflationary risks,” said Raymond Yeung, chief China economist of the ANZ Group. 
 
“Both CPI and PPI are unlikely to retreat in the second quarter, in our view,” Yeung said. 
 
Analysts with the CITIC securities Co expected the PPI to continue expanding in April on the low-base effect. 
 
Considering the high producer price base last year and China’s reducing value-added tax rates, however, the PPI may contract in May and June of 2019, they said. 
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 12, 2019
China abides by EU standards, rules in infrastructure cooperation: premier
11th April 2019

 Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday that China will insist on open tendering when carrying out infrastructure cooperation with European Union member states and will abide by the EU standards and rules.

 
Li made the remarks during his meeting with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, to whom the Chinese premier first extended the greetings from Chinese President Xi Jinping.
 
On infrastructure cooperation, Li said that China will ensure projects being completed with high quality, and strive for mutual benefits, win-win and all-win cooperation in this area.
 
An important consensus reached in the just-concluded 21st China-EU leaders' meeting is that investment should be open to both sides and non-discriminative, which the China-EU cooperation should comply with, he added.
 
Li said that China and Croatia always stick to treating each other equally with mutual respect based on mutual benefits and win-win principles, and the bilateral relations have maintained healthy and stable development.
 
China appreciates that President Kitarovic pays great attention to the development of China-Croatia relationship, said the premier.
 
Noting that China-Croatia cooperation is equal, open, inclusive and has huge development potential, Li said China is willing to strengthen the alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative with Croatia's Three Seas Initiative, and continuously deepen bilateral practical cooperation in all areas.
 
For her part, Grabar-Kitarovic said Croatia and China share a profound traditional friendship and amicable bilateral relations.
 
The two countries have no conflict of interests and have broad prospect for cooperation in areas including economy and trade, investment and culture, she added.
 
Grabar-Kitarovic said that Li's visit has achieved fruitful results and injected new impetus into the development of China-Croatia relationship.
 
Croatia welcomes Chinese companies to invest in the country and carry out port cooperation, among others, said Grabar-Kitarovic, adding that Croatia will not discriminate any state enterprise.
 
Grabar-Kitarovic said the project of the Peljesac Bridge is a symbol of friendship between people of the two countries, and it is a large-scale infrastructure project constructed in an EU country by a Chinese company through open tendering and in compliance with EU laws and standards.
 
The project will bring a huge convenience to local people, said the president, adding that it has shown the capabilities of Chinese enterprises, set up a new model for bilateral cooperation and is expected to deliver positive demonstration effect.
 
Croatia is willing to better align the TSI with the China-proposed BRI as well as the cooperation mechanism between China and Central Eastern European Countries to promote Croatia-China and Europe-China practical cooperation to achieve new development, she said.
 
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 11, 2019
China, EU to seal trade pact by 2020
10th April 2019

 China and the European Union aim to conclude a comprehensive bilateral investment agreement in 2020, according to a joint statement issued by the two sides in Brussels yesterday.

 
China and the EU commit to achieving in the course of 2019 the decisive progress required, notably with regard to the liberalization commitments, for the conclusion of an ambitious China-EU Comprehensive Investment Agreement in 2020, the statement said.
 
The high level of ambition, the statement added, will be reflected in substantially improved market access, the elimination of discriminatory requirements and practices affecting foreign investors, the establishment of a balanced investment protection framework, and the inclusion of provisions on investment and sustainable development.
 
The statement came after the 21st China-EU leaders’ meeting, which was co-chaired by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
 
In the statement, both sides also pledged to build their economic relationship on openness, non-discrimination and fair competition, ensuring a level playing field, transparency, and based on mutual benefits.
 
“China and the EU commit to ensure equitable and mutually beneficial cooperation in bilateral trade and investment,” the statement said, reiterating the two sides’ willingness to enhance bilateral economic cooperation, trade and investment, and to provide each other with broader and more facilitated, non-discriminatory market access.
 
“With this in mind, China and the EU will intensify work toward finding mutually agreeable solutions to a number of key barriers as identified by both parties,” the statement said.
 
The two sides also reaffirmed their commitment to multilateralism and opposition to protectionism. The leaders reiterated their respect for international law and for fundamental norms governing international relations, with the United Nations at the core.
 
The two sides commit to upholding the UN Charter and international law, and all three pillars of the UN system, namely peace and security, development, and human rights, the joint statement said.
 
China and the EU firmly support the rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization at its core, fight against unilateralism and protectionism, and commit to complying with WTO rules, it said.
 
The two sides reaffirmed their joint commitment to cooperation on WTO reform to ensure its continued relevance and allow it to address global trade challenges. They agreed to intensify discussions on strengthening international rules on industrial subsidies, and continue working to resolve the crisis in the WTO Appellate Body.
 
They also underlined their support to the G20 in continuing to play its active role as the premier forum in international economic and financial cooperation, and agreed to promote the G20, in the spirit of partnership and the principle of consensus, to make more contributions to upholding multilateralism, improving global economic governance and boosting global economic growth.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 10, 2019
Survey shows strong consumer, investor confidence in Shanghai economic outlook
9th April 2019

 Shanghai's consumers and investors are increasingly confident about the city's economy, buoyed by authorities focusing on development and cutting taxes and fees, a survey released on Monday showed.

 
The latest Shanghai University of Finance and Economics quarterly Consumer Confidence in Shanghai index grew 4.8 points from the fourth quarter of 2018 to 124.5 points in the January-March period this year. That was up 6.3 points from a year earlier.
 
The Index of Investor Confidence bounced back strongly, reversing five quarters of falls. It grew 11.89 points from the fourth quarter to 113.12 points for Q1 this year.
 
But it remained flat on a yearly basis. For both indexes, a reading above 100 shows optimism; below, pessimism.
 
The increasing consumer confidence in Shanghai’s economy was attributed to Shanghai's Two Sessions held in January 2019 — the second meeting of the 13th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Shanghai Committee and the second session of the 15th Shanghai People’s Congress — during which the city's authorities focused on promoting the steady development of the economy, said Xu Guoxiang, director of the university’s Applied Statistics Research Center.
 
The government also began cutting taxes and fees from the start of this year, reducing the burden on companies and putting more money into consumers' pockets, boosting consumer expectations on income and higher purchase intentions, Xu said.
 
The rally in the capital market also helped boost consumer confidence in the first quarter.
 
The sub-index of purchase intentions jumped sharply by 11.2 points from the previous quarter and 7.8 points from the same period in 2018 to 90.5 points.
 
The component index measuring intentions to buy homes soared to 74.8 points, 16.4 points higher than the fourth quarter and posting a year-on-year rise of 13.6 points. The intention to buy cars also posted a sharp rise to 88.2 points from 76.6 points in the previous quarter and was up 6.1 points from a year earlier.
 
The investor index was helped by the easing of trade tensions between China and the US and the plan to increase the weighting of China A-shares in the MSCI index this year, which led to strong gains in China's stock markets, Xu said.
 
The MSCI's plan to quadruple the weighting of Chinese mainland shares in its global benchmarks later this year could attract more than  US$80 billion of new foreign investment, analysts say.
 
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 9, 2019

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