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News from China
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
16 institutions, merchants punished for cash refusal
22nd January 2021

 The People’s Bank of China announced today that it punished 16 merchants and institutions for refusing to take payments in cash during the fourth quarter of 2020.

The central bank punished 16 violators, including parks, public service institutions, parking lots and insurance companies, as part of a clampdown on the practice of refusing cash payments launched in October.
The violators were issued with fines ranging from 500 yuan (US$77.28) to 500,000 yuan, for posting “no cash” signs or simply refusing to take cash as payments, the PBOC said.
The central bank launched its campaign last year in order to protect consumers’ legal rights, as a growing number of businesses have gone cashless amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers who try to pay in cash but are prevented from doing so can lodge a complaint with authorities, as such practices are illegal.
Source: Shanghai Daily, January 22, 2021
Tougher rules for non-bank payment firms
21st January 2021

 China’s central bank proposed stepping up anti-trust measures to rein in payment firms such as Ant Group’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay, which dominate the non-bank payment industry.

Under draft rules proposed on Wednesday, the People’s Bank of China can advise the state council’s antitrust committee to stop companies abusing their dominant position or even break up a non-bank institution, if it “severely hinders the healthy development of the payment service market.”
So far China has 233 licensed players, with the market dominated by Alipay and WeChat Pay in terms of online transactions, according to a report by consultancy firm iResearch.
The PBOC will hold talks with institutions over their market dominance once a single player’s market share reached a third of the total non-bank payment industry, or when the market share of two players combined reached half of the total. It will also identify institutions as having a monopoly once a single player holds more than half of the market share in the nationwide electronic payment market, which also includes online and mobile banking payments.
Non-bank payment service providers must also comply with PBOC’s anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism requirements and if these are severely breached, the central bank can revoke the player’s license under the new rules.
“The rules will set up a framework for future collaboration between financial regulators and law enforcement bodies,” said Liu Xu from the National Strategy Institute of Tsinghua University.
Source: Shanghai Daily, January 21, 2021

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