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News from China
Global business travel to grow 21% in 2021, trade group forecasts
3rd February 2021

 Business travel spending is forecast to grow 21 percent this year worldwide, helped by the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, but will not recover to pre-pandemic levels until the middle of the decade, a business travel association said yesterday.

 
Spending on business travel is projected to rise to US$842 billion in 2021, according to the Global Business Travel Association’s BTI Outlook, after falling 52 percent in 2020 to US$694 billion due to the pandemic.
 
After a decade of steady annual growth, business travel is expected to show losses in 2020 that are 10 times greater than the declines after the September 11, 2001, attacks or the 2008 recession, GBTA said.
 
Despite the expected growth in travel in 2021, uncertainty around vaccination progress and United States President Joe Biden’s policies can affect the recovery.
 
“The continued rollout of the vaccine will be central to recovery globally, as will decisions the new Biden Administration makes regarding global trade and border and quarantine policies,” said Dave Hilfman, GBTA’s interim executive director in a statement.
 
As US airlines also expect, the group said businesses are likely to spend more on travel that cannot be duplicated with online meetings such as sales calls and service trips.
 
The proportion of companies’ travel budget spent on internal meetings is estimated to decline 6 percent, compared to 2019.
 
By the end of 2024, business travel spending is projected to reach about US$1.4 trillion, nearly tying the 2019 pre-pandemic revenue peak of US$1.43 trillion, the group said. It projects a full recovery in 2025.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, February 3, 2021
Ministry further slashes forecast for travel season
29th January 2021

 China’s Ministry of Transport on Thursday cut its forecast of passenger flow for the 2021 Spring Festival travel season as the country has adopted strict anti-epidemic measures to curb COVID-19 spread.

 
The 40-day travel peak, which started on Thursday, is expected to see around 1.15 billion passenger trips, marking a drop of more than 20 percent year on year and a plunge of over 60 percent from the level in 2019, ministry spokesperson Wu Chungeng told a press conference.
 
The ministry previously projected China to see 1.7 billion passenger trips during the period. However, it now expects the actual numbers to be much lower than the current forecast.
 
Around 3 billion trips are normally made in what has come to be known as the Spring Festival travel rush. People across the country usually enjoy a week-long holiday for family gatherings and celebrations for the Lunar New Year, which falls on February 12 this year.
 
This year, following a resurgence of sporadic COVID-19 cases, the government has encouraged people to stay put to celebrate the festival and travelers must have a negative virus test within seven days of departure.
 
Authorities have offered free refunds on plane tickets and extra pay for workers who stay put to dissuade travel for the holiday. Entertainment streaming services have been asked to offer more free movies, TV and sports services during the holiday to help people pass the time at home, while the three largest mobile operators — China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom — will give 20GB free data to users based in Beijing during the festival.
 
Efforts appeared to be working as Beijing’s main train station was largely quiet and estimates of passenger totals were smaller than in past years.
 
Miao Biao, a migrant worker in Hefei, capital of east China’s Anhui Province, said it would be his first time in 11 years to spend the holiday in Hefei instead of his hometown in the city of Fuyang.
 
According to the appliance maker Whirlpool China, where Miao works, about one-fourth of its 2,600 workers have chosen not to return to their hometown during the holiday. The company will grant them cash rewards, holiday gifts as well as a three-day vacation for a home visit in April.
Source: Shanghai Daily, January 29, 2021
IMF predicts 5.5% global economic growth in 2021
27th January 2021

 The International Monetary Fund yesterday raised its forecast for global economic growth in 2021 and said the coronavirus-triggered downturn in 2020 would be nearly a full percentage point less severe than expected.

 
China’s economy is expected to expand by 8.1 percent in 2021 and 5.6 percent in 2022.
 
It said multiple vaccine approvals and the launch of vaccinations in some countries in December had boosted hopes of an eventual end to the pandemic that has now infected nearly 100 million people and claimed 2.1 million lives.
 
But it warned that the world economy continued to face “exceptional uncertainty” and new waves of COVID-19 infections and variants posed risks, and global activity would remain well below pre-COVID projections made one year ago.
 
Close to 90 million people are likely to fall below the extreme poverty threshold during 2020-2021, with the pandemic wiping out progress made in reducing poverty over the past two decades. Large numbers of people remained unemployed and underemployed in many countries, including the US.
 
In its latest World Economic Outlook, the IMF forecast a 2020 global contraction of 3.5 percent, an improvement of 0.9 percentage points from the 4.4 percent slump predicted in October, reflecting stronger-than-expected momentum in the second half of 2020.
 
It predicted global growth of 5.5 percent in 2021, an increase of 0.3 percentage points from the October forecast, citing expectations of a vaccine-powered uptick later in the year and added policy support in the US, Japan and a few other large economies.
 
It said the US economy — the largest in the world — was expected to grow by 5.1 percent in 2021, an upward revision of 2 percentage points attributed to carryover from strong momentum in the second half of 2020 and the benefit accruing from US$900 billion in additional fiscal support.
 
The Fund said countries should continue to support their economies until activity normalized to limit persistent damage from the deep recession of the past year.
 
Low-income countries would need continued support through grants, low-interest loans and debt relief, it said.
Source: SHanghai Daily, January 27, 2021
China largest FDI recipient in 2020 amidst global plunge: UNCTAD report
26th January 2021

 China was the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in 2020 as the coronavirus outbreak spread across the world during the course of the year, with the Chinese economy having brought in US$163 billion in inflows.

 
China’s high-tech industries saw an increase of 11 percent in 2020, and cross-border mergers and acquisitions rose by 54 percent, mostly in information and communications technology and pharmaceutical industries, a new report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development showed on Sunday.
 
FDI flows to China rose by 4 percent to US$163 billion, compared to US$134 billion attracted by the United States.
 
“A return to positive gross domestic product growth and the government’s targeted investment facilitation program helped stabilize investment after the early (coronavirus) lockdown,” James Zhan, UNCTAD’s director of investment and enterprise, said in a virtual press conference.
 
“The global dependence on the supply chains of multinational enterprises in China during the pandemic also sustained the FDI growth in China,” he added.
 
The country saw its GDP increase 2.3 percent last year and is expected to be the only major economy to post growth in the pandemic-ravaged year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
 
Overall, global FDI had collapsed in 2020, falling by 42 percent to an estimated US$859 billion, from US$1.5 trillion in 2019, the Geneva-based UN trade and development body said in its latest Investment Trends Monitor.
 
“FDI finished 2020 more than 30 percent below the trough after the global financial crisis in 2009 and back at a level last seen in the 1990s,” the report said.
 
The data showed that the decline was concentrated in developed countries, where FDI flows fell by 69 percent to an estimated US$229 billion, the lowest level in 25 years.
 
Flows to Europe dried up completely, tumbling by two-thirds to minus US$4 billion, it noted. In Britain, FDI fell to zero, and declines were recorded in other major European recipients. A sharp decrease of 49 percent to US$134 billion was also recorded in the United States.
 
The decline in developing economies was relatively measured at 12 percent to an estimated US$616 billion, the report showed.
 
FDI flows fell by 37 percent in Latin American and the Caribbean, by 18 percent in Africa, and by 4 percent in developing Asia.
 
Looking ahead, UNCTAD warned that the global FDI trend is expected to remain weak this year.
 
“Risks related to the latest wave of the pandemic, the pace of the roll-out of vaccination programs and economic support packages, fragile macro-economic situations in major emerging markets, and uncertainty about the global policy environment for investment will all continue to affect FDI in 2021,” it wrote.
 
While sharply lower greenfield project announcements suggest that a turnaround in industrial sectors is not yet in sight, UNCTAD however stressed that strong deal activity in technology and pharmaceutical industries could push M&A-driven FDI flows higher.
 
“The global FDI is likely to follow a U-shape recovery, unlike the global trade and GDP which have been predicted to be a V-shape recovery starting already 2021.
Source: Shanghai Daily, Jamuary 26, 2021

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