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News from China
7-nation deal to increase rail freight
24th April 2017

 RAILWAY authorities of China, Belarus, Germany, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Poland and Russia have signed an agreement to deepen cooperation on China-Europe freight rail services, according to China Railway Corp.

 
The agreement serves the Belt and Road initiative, expands the market share of rail freight between Asia and Europe and drives economic development and trade cooperation for counties along the route.
 
The countries will jointly push for better railway infrastructure for a safe, smooth, fast, convenient and competitive rail route, according to the agreement.
 
Information technology will boost train speed and unified service. Information sharing platforms will be built to ensure transport safety.
 
The countries will expand the rail services to more areas with faster customs clearance. A joint work team and expert team will be formed to solve problems.
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 24, 2017
Central SOEs vow to continue cuts
21st April 2017

 CHINA’S central government-administered state-owned enterprises have vowed to continue to cut output overcapacity in some industrial sectors, aiming to reduce steel capacity by 5.95 million tons and coal by 24.73 million tons.

 
“Detailed plans have been made by central SOEs,” said an insider who prefers to remain anonymous.
 
For example, China Huaneng Group, a power company, is considering cutting 9.14 million tons of coal production capacity by the end of 2018 while dealing with 16 of the group’s “zombie companies.”
 
China Poly Group Corp, a state-run conglomerate, has vowed to close inefficient coal mines and reorganize 39 of its subordinate companies to improve profits.
 
The latest efforts by the central SOEs will reinforce their achievements made in 2016 in reducing overcapacity.
 
Last year, the central SOEs eliminated steel production capacity by more than 10.19 million tons and coal capacity by over 34.97 million tons, both beating annual targets.
 
The capacity cut drive by central SOEs is only a part of China’s bigger picture in slashing overcapacity.
 
The country aims to curtail steel production capacity by around 50 million tons and coal by at least 150 million tons this year, a key part of the country’s supply-side reform.
 
To improve its growth quality and efficiency, China began its supply-side structural reform in 2015 to cut overcapacity, reduce inventory, deleverage, lower costs and strengthen weak links.
 
“China’s SOE reform is an important link in pushing forward supply-side structural reform,” said Li Jin, chief researcher with the China Enterprise Research Institute.
 
Realizing the significance of SOEs to the country’s sustainable growth, China launched a series of reforms including cutting capacity, managing “zombie companies,” cutting excessive layers of hierarchy and calling for innovation among these firms.
 
Overcapacity, poor corporate governance and low labor productivity had dragged down profits of China’s SOEs, which deteriorated in 2015.
 
In 2016, China’s central SOEs cut 2,730 subsidiary legal entities and saved 4.91 billion yuan in management costs, according to the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the SOE watchdog.
 
Thanks in part to the efforts, China’s central SOEs saw profits rise slightly. Growth last year picked up from a 5.6 percent drop in 2015.
 
In 2016, central SOEs made total profits of 1.23 trillion yuan (US$179 billion), up 0.5 percent year on year, according to the SASAC.
 
This year, China pledged in its annual government work report to deepen SOE reform, such as introducing a mixed-ownership system and more efforts to make SOEs leaner, healthier, and perform better.
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 21, 2017
White sugar options start trading in Zhengzhou
20th April 2017

 CHINA’S second commodity options, white sugar options, started trading on Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange yesterday.

 
“Businesses can now use a combination of investment tools including spot contracts, futures contracts and options to manage risks more effectively,” said Ma Wensheng, chairman of Xinhu Futures, a Shanghai-based futures brokerage.
 
Unlike futures contract, options give investors the right but not the obligation to buy or sell the underlying assets at a predetermined price, effectively giving investors some insurance against future price volatility.
 
The white sugar options are China’s second commodity options after soybean meal, currently trading on Dalian Commodity Exchange.
 
Fang Xinghai, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said the financial instrument will facilitate the health of the sugar industry, benefiting 40 million sugar cane farmers in remote and poor regions.
 
As demand for commodity derivatives rises, more futures and options products will be launched, Fang said.
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 20, 2017
IMF raises China’s growth forecasts
19th April 2017

 THE International Monetary Fund yesterday raised forecasts for China’s economic growth in 2017 and 2018, citing expectations of continued policy support, but warned of potential disruptions in the medium term unless the country reduces its reliance on rapid credit growth.

 
The IMF upgraded its estimate for China’s 2017 growth to 6.6 percent from 6.5 percent, which it made in January.
 
It also raised its forecast for growth next year to 6.2 percent from the previous 6 percent.
 
While higher, the IMF estimates would equate to a slowdown from current growth rates.
 
China’s economy grew by a faster-than-expected 6.9 percent in the first quarter of this year, fueled by robust bank lending, higher government infrastructure spending and a housing market that is showing signs of overheating.
 
The IMF said China has made some progress in reducing its industrial production overcapacity, but noted that the economy continues to rely on government stimulus and rapid credit expansion to maintain growth.
 
The report cited China’s “policy preference for maintaining relatively high GDP growth,” but warned of the consequences of unbalanced growth in the medium term.
 
“The resulting persistent resource misallocation, however, raises the risk of a disruptive adjustment in China in the medium term,” which could also be exacerbated by continued capital outflows, the report said.
 
Despite vows from policy-makers to rein in financial risks and pursue more sustainable growth, China continues to depend heavily on debt and public spending to drive growth.
 
Total new credit to the economy, which includes bank lending as well as other forms of credit, rose by a record 6.93 trillion yuan in the first quarter, data showed last week.
 
Coming after China’s record 17.8 trillion yuan (US$2.6 trillion) in credit last year, analysts are skeptical that policy-makers will be able to wean the economy off years of debt-fueled growth and still hit official growth targets.
 
The Bank for International Settlements in September warned excessive credit growth in China is signaling an increasing risk of a banking crisis in the next three years.
 
China’s debt-to-GDP ratio rose to 277 percent at the end of 2016 from 254 percent the previous year, with an increasing share of new credit being used to pay debt servicing costs, according to an estimate from UBS.
 
The IMF raised its forecast for global growth for 2017 to 3.5 percent from 3.4 percent but left its estimate for 2018 growth unchanged at 3.6 percent.
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 19, 2017

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