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News from China
China’s auto sales climb 7% in Q1
12th April 2017

 CHINA’S auto sales grew 7 percent in the first quarter, the country’s automaker association said yesterday, with the strongest January-March period since 2014 setting up the world’s largest auto market for a better-than-expected year.

Many in the industry had feared that sales would be weak in the first three months after the government rolled back a tax cut on small-engine cars on January 1, contributing to expectations for a slowdown in 2017 sales.
But first-quarter growth outpaced the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers’ prediction in January that auto sales would grow 5 percent in 2017, and the market is expected to improve further as the year progresses.
“Our current attitude should be cautiously optimistic, as in reality we still feel there is pressure,” said Xu Haidong, a CAAM spokesman, explaining why it was not adjusting the 5 percent forecast.
“This is because of policy changes, as well as related economic trends and other reasons.”
Vehicle sales rose 4 percent year on year in March to 2.5 million vehicles, CAAM said in Beijing.
The purchase tax for cars with engines of 1.6-liter capacity or below climbed to 7.5 percent this year from 5 percent in 2016 after the government stepped in to stimulate slumping sales. The tax will rise to the normal 10 percent rate next year.
“We’ve always planned for the fact that (in) the first quarter there would be payback from the pull forward of sales into the fourth quarter” before the incentive was reduced, Mark Fields, chief executive of Ford Motor Co, said in Shanghai on Saturday ahead of the CAAM figures.
“We expect the second, third and fourth quarter to show improvement.”
Ford predicts that China’s overall auto sales will be flat or down slightly this year, Fields said. The US automaker is due to report its March China sales today.
General Motors Co said last week its China sales in the first quarter fell 5.2 percent year on year, with the automaker citing the impact of the tax cut reduction.
Automakers with a steady stream of new models, particularly in the hot-selling sport-utility vehicle segment like Japan’s Honda Motor Co, continue to lead the market. Honda said its sales grew 16.6 percent in the first quarter.
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 12, 2016
CBRC to tighten banking supervision
11th April 2017

 CHINA’S banking regulator will tighten supervision on a wide range of banking operations from granting credit to Internet finance, signaling strong rules will be issued to curb systematic financial risks to the sector.

The China Banking Regulatory Commission released a guideline yesterday, asking banking institutions to prevent risks in 10 key areas, including beefing up risk management over credit, curbing excessive credit in the property sector, controlling investment in bond products, and cleaning the fraudulent online peer-to-peer lending business.
“Risk prevention should be put higher on the agenda,” the CBRC said. “We should keep watch and resolve those highlighted risks to avoid any appearance of systematic risks.”
The regulator also warned that institutions that breach the law will be punished.
The guideline came after 17 institutions, including Xinda Asset Management Co, Ping An Bank, China Merchants Bank and Bank of Communications, faced fines and were warned for indulging in irregular arbitrage, illegal transactions and improper fees or charges.
It was the first guidance filed after Guo Shuqing, former head of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, took the helm of the banking watchdog.
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 11, 2017
New investment potential rises amid stable growth
10th April 2017

 CHINA’S economic growth will be stable this year, with investment opportunities likely to emerge in digitization, technological innovation and consumption, experts told a forum over the weekend.

China will remain a center of manufacturing for the world despite companies relocating their factories in other parts of Asia, Francisco Aristeguieta, Asia-Pacific CEO of Citigroup, said at the CEIBS Private Wealth Investment Forum, co-organized by University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.
He is confident of China playing a leading role in digitization and globalization.
Companies, including Citigroup, are scouting for Chinese partners when they implement their digitization strategy, and China’s embracing attitude in the digital era creates numerous opportunities in the market, Aristeguieta said.
Zhu Haibin, chief China economist of JPMorgan, said China’s gross domestic product is likely to grow 6.6 percent this year, 0.1 percentage points higher than the government’s official target. Zhu also forecast China’s economic development, financial markets and exchange rate to remain steady.
Han Xianwang, chief economist of China Universal Asset Management, said shares of companies engaged in consumption upgrading, technological innovation and structural reform will continue to lure investors.
Han’s priorities in the technology sector are Internet firms, makers of new-energy cars, new-material companies and medical companies.
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 10, 2017
China up to 15th in tourism ranking
7th April 2017

 China has risen two positions to 15th in the latest global tourism competitiveness ranking, released by the World Economic Forum yesterday.

The forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017 ranks 136 countries and regions across 14 dimensions, revealing how well countries could deliver sustainable economic and societal benefits through their travel and tourism sector.
While advanced economies, such as Spain, France and Germany, continue to top the rankings, 12 of the top 15 most improved countries are emerging markets, with Asia’s as exponents.
“The rise of Asia’s giants shows that the Asian Tourism Century is becoming a reality,” said Tiffany Misrahi, WEF’s community lead of the aviation, travel and tourism industries.
As one of Asia’s giants, China received nearly 57 million tourists in 2016, which took up over 20 percent of global arrivals in Asia, the report said.
It attributes the improvement of China’s tourism competitiveness ranking mainly to the country’s increased international openness, improved information and communications technology readiness and further investments in its tourist service infrastructure.
China’s increased prioritization of its travel and tourism industry has also supported its rise, the report said.
Meanwhile, the WEF report suggested more measures to support the country’s continued rise in the ranking, including creating more accommodation capacity beyond the larger cities, a more enabling environment for doing business, and environmental sustainability to ensure the preservation of its unique natural resources.
The report also sees China as a largest source market in the region with nearly 128 million departures registered in 2015. But the potential is still huge, as the report finds out that only 5 percent of China’s population hold a passport.
It also found that the increasingly protectionist global context, one that is hindering global trade, is not holding back global travel.
WEF’s statistics showed the global travel and tourism sector accounted for 10 percent of global GDP and provided one in 10 jobs worldwide.
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 7, 2017

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