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News from China
China's producer prices up 0.1% in January
15th February 2019

 China's producer price index, which measures costs for goods at the factory gate, edged up 0.1 percent year on year in January, the National Bureau of Statistics said Friday.

 
It was down from a growth of 0.9 percent recorded in December.
 
The prices of means of production entered the negative zone, edging down 0.1 percent year on year last month, according to the NBS.
 
Of major industrial sectors, the PPI in oil and natural gas exploration dipped 5 percent, compared with an increase in December.
 
The PPI for non-ferrous metal smelting and rolling declined 3.5 percent, a sharper decrease than the 2.3-percent fall recorded in December.
 
On a month-on-month basis, the country's PPI slipped 0.6 percent in January, a milder decline than the 1-percent drop recorded in December, according to the NBS.
 
Last year, China's PPI rose 3.5 percent, down from the 6.3-percent growth in 2017.
 
Friday's data also showed a 1.7-percent year-on-year rise in the country's consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, in January, down from a 1.9-percent increase for December.
Source: Shanghai Daily, February 15, 2019
Positive policies and opening-up fire trade growth
13th February 2019
China has confidence in its ability to maintain stable trade growth in 2019 thanks to a raft of positive factors, a senior commerce official said on Tuesday.
 
“Looking ahead, despite the complex environment, we still see many favorable factors for the stable development of foreign trade in 2019,” Chu Shijia, head of the comprehensive department of the Ministry of Commerce, told a conference.
 
The gradual recovery of the global economy, China’s opening-up efforts and pro-trade policies, accelerating industrial upgrading and improving corporate vitality will lend strong steam to the country’s trade growth this year, Chu said.
 
The ministry’s data showed China’s foreign trade in goods surged faster than expected to a record high last year.
 
The country’s goods trade totaled US$4.6 trillion last year, up 12.6 percent year on year, faster than that of major trading nations. It made China the world’s largest trader in goods.
 
The country also saw improving trade structure last year, with growing trade with Belt and Road countries, more high-end exports and accelerating imports growth.
 
Trade with the countries along the Belt and Road rose to 27.4 percent of the total.
 
The proportion of imports and exports in the central and western regions increased to 15.8 percent. The proportion of exports of mechanical and electrical products rose to 58.7 percent.
 
The private sector accounted for 48 percent of total exports, making it the largest single source of exports, the ministry said.
 
And China has continued to push foreign trade growth and improve the business environment to encourage the development of new businesses.
 
The world’s second-largest economy set up 22 new comprehensive pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce and launched six trial projects for market procurement last year.
 
According to World Trade Organization statistics, China’s share of global imports increased by 0.7 percentage points to 10.9 percent in the first three quarters of 2018, and the country’s contribution to global import growth was 16.8 percent.
 
In particular, last year’s inaugural China International Import Expo provided new opportunities for countries and regions around the world to expand exports to China and injected new impetus into world economic growth.
 
Chu also revealed that goods trade continued the upward growth momentum in January.
 
In terms of transnational direct investment, global transnational direct investment fell 19 percent in 2018 from a year earlier — the third consecutive annual decline and hitting the lowest level since the global financial crisis, according to a recent report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development.
 
China’s actual use of foreign capital last year was US$134.97 billion, an increase of 3 percent from 2017, achieving the goal of stabilizing foreign investment in line with the government’s efforts to promote the optimization of the investment environment, said Tang Wenhong, director of the ministry’s department of foreign investment administration.
 
“In 2019, the Ministry of Commerce will continue to relax market access and will constantly strengthen the protection of the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors to create a world-class environment for foreign investment,” Tang said.
Source: Shanghai Daily, February 13, 2019
Expanded free trade zone to have global influence
12th February 2019

 Shanghai will coordinate with state-level authorities to draft and implement plans for an expansion of the city’s free trade zone as one of the city government’s top priorities for the first quarter, Mayor Ying Yong said on Monday.

 
Companies in the new area will be given preferential policies to conduct offshore trading, offshore financing and digital trading. The area is expected to have global influence and competitiveness, the mayor said at a government meeting.
 
The city will also help quality companies nationwide list with the planned technology innovation board on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, while fostering local innovation-driven startups.
 
“We will embrace challenges, take active measures to counter risks, and grasp all opportunities to pave the way for high-quality growth,” Ying said.
 
“We will take every possible means to stabilize employment, the financial sector, trade, foreign investment as well as growth expectations.”
 
China is drafting a guideline for the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta region, and the city will join hands with other provinces in the region to create a demonstration zone for the initiative, he said.
 
The mayor also said Shanghai will step up support policies for private enterprises based in the city, while further improving the business environment by considerably lowering taxes and fees.
 
As for the life of local people, the city will ensure plans on air, water and soil quality proceed smoothly, while carrying out domestic waste sorting all over the city, the mayor said.
 
Community health care, education and elderly care will be high on the government agenda as part of efforts to improve people’s livelihood, he said.
 
Consumption will be leveraged to drive economic growth, and the city will also ensure the success of the second China International Import Expo to expand its positive influence on the economy, Ying said.
 
“Shanghai is the country’s largest economic center and is at the forefront of reform and opening-up,” Ying said.
 
“As a megacity, we must take preemptive measures to avoid any potential systematic and regional major risks.
 
“We must give top priority to sustaining growth as we focus on doing our own work as well as possible,” he added.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, February 12. 2019
Why 'China slowdown' worries are overblown
11th February 2019
As China posted slower growth last year, many are worried that continued downward pressure on the world's second-largest economy could drag global growth. 
However, a closer look at the economy would prove that the concerns over a slowdown spillover are overstated.
 
A more sustainable growth model, coupled with a policy package to stimulate growth, will underpin the economy in 2019, bringing abundant opportunities to global investors who stay prepared to cash in on the ever-evolving market.
 
Here are four reasons to remain upbeat about the Chinese economy.As China posted slower growth last year, many are worried that continued downward pressure on the world's second-largest economy could drag global growth. However, a closer look at the economy would prove that the concerns over a slowdown spillover are overstated.
 
A more sustainable growth model, coupled with a policy package to stimulate growth, will underpin the economy in 2019, bringing abundant opportunities to global investors who stay prepared to cash in on the ever-evolving market.
 
Here are four reasons to remain upbeat about the Chinese economy.
More sustainable growth
 
While the 6.6-percent GDP growth rate that China registered last year was slower than that in 2017 and the double-digit growth was often seen in the past decades, investors should not overlook the fact that the growth was based on a much larger economic scale, analysts said.
 
The Chinese economy expanded to over 90 trillion yuan (US$13.4 trillion) in 2018, almost tripling its size from 10 years ago, official data showed.
 
"It's true the economy is slowing, but if you look at the output added each year, it's still very impressive," said J.P. Morgan Chief China Economist Zhu Haibin.
 
By his calculation, even if China's growth slows to 6 percent, it still means the economy would expand by some 700 billion dollars a year, almost the size of some emerging economies.
 
Such economic performance has allowed the country enough room to shift from the old investment- and export-driven growth model to one that draws strength from consumption and innovation, which is more sustainable and less dependent on external factors.
 
While acknowledging economic headwinds, especially in the first half of 2019, Nomura Securities said in a report that the economy would likely see a rebound in the second half.
 
Robust consumption
 
Although earlier indicators showed signs of weaker domestic consumption, rational observers remain quite optimistic about the sector's greater potential in driving China's economy and beyond.
 
The anxiety about China's consumers is largely overdone, said a report by British think tank Oxford Economics. "We remain fairly positive on China's consumption outlook."
 
China's retail sales will remain solid in 2019 thanks to strong consumption services and increasing growth-supporting measures despite a slowdown in the automobile sector, the report said.
 
The Chinese consumer continues to trade up more than down, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. Across fresh foods, alcoholic beverages, cosmetics and more, 10 times as many consumers report trading up to higher-priced goods than down.
 
These trends are driving increases in imports of premium goods from several Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development markets, it said.
 
New York-based research firm eMarketer predicted that China would become the world's biggest retail market this year with total retail sales reaching 5.63 trillion dollars.
 
More room for investment
 
Thanks to the ongoing government deleveraging campaign, the build-up of debt since the financial crisis in 2008 is now much less of a concern for the Chinese economy.
 
In 2018, China made steady progress in what it calls "structural deleveraging," using tailored measures to bring down leverage in different sectors.
 
The corporate sector, often considered the most troubled in terms of debt levels, has seen a decrease in the leverage ratio thanks to the debt-to-equity swap program, which allows companies to exchange their debt for stocks.
 
As most of China's debt is priced in local currency, and the debt owed by strategic sectors are often backed up by the central government, it is unlikely a financial crisis would occur, said Credit Suisse in its report on investment outlook for 2019.
 
With stable debt levels, the country has more room for effective investments to shore up growth. The country has vowed to ramp up efforts to fix weak areas in infrastructure and increase investment to support relocation programs.
 
"As we continue to implement policies this year, we can expect stronger investment data," said Ning Jizhe, head of the National Bureau of Statistics.
 
Further opening-up
 
China bucked the trend of the global foreign direct investment slide in 2018 as the largest investment recipient in the world, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
 
UNCTAD's director of Investment and Enterprise James Zhan attributed more investment flows into China to factors such as further liberalization, particularly in the service and financial sectors, and intensified efforts for promoting investment in high-tech industries.
 
"Last year was another record high level, and the prospects for a rise of FDI into China remain optimistic," said Zhan.
 
Foreign businesses are set to reap more benefits from China's continued efforts to widen market access and build a better business environment this year.
 
One of the highlights will be a unified foreign investment law that aims to adopt a model of pre-established national treatment with a negative list and strengthened protection of property rights of companies with foreign investments.
 
The law will be submitted to the upcoming plenary session of the National People's Congress, which is scheduled to open on March 5.
 
 
Source: Shanghai Daily February 11,2019

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