CPPCC Spokesperson upbeat on growth as gathering opens

(CHINA DAILY, CHINADAILY/COM.CN) – China will continue to be the engine of global growth as its economic fundamentals remain strong and resilient, a senior official said on Thursday (02), dismissing the pessimism regarding the country’s economic prospects.

Wang Guoqing, Spokesperson for the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said China has made a good start in its 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) and the country contributed about a third of world growth in 2016, more than any other country’s contribution.

“China’s steady growth has brought in greater demand, investment and products to the world economy and created many opportunities for cooperation,” Mr. Wang said at a news conference.

China’s growth target, as well as its policy and reform priorities, will be closely watched as the annual meetings of the country’s top legislature and political advisory body open this week.

The country will also help improve global prosperity and regional infrastructure as it pushes the Belt and Road Initiative, Mr. Wang said.

The value of investment in 53 countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative reached $14.5 billion last year, he said.

The annual meeting of the National Committee of the CPPCC, the country’s top political advisory body, will open on Friday (03).

The National People’s Congress, the top legislature, will convene on Sunday (05), with lawmakers reviewing and elaborating on Premier Li Keqiang’s Government Work Report.

The consensus among economists is that China will keep its growth target unchanged at about 6.5 to 7 percent this year. The Government will likely adopt a more expansionary fiscal policy by raising its budget deficits, while keeping its monetary policy neutral or even tighter to curb financial risks, they said.

Other reform priorities will include deepening supply-side reform, cutting excessive industrial capacity and reducing the burden for the corporate sector.

Ding Shuang, Head of Greater China Economic Research at Standard Chartered Bank, said policymakers will emphasise economic and financial stability during the meetings and may raise the budget deficit to 3.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), from last year’s 3 percent, to maintain growth.

“In light of the impact of a cooling property market on investment and consumption, we think a more expansionary fiscal policy and higher budget deficit are needed to prevent growth from falling significantly below 6.5 percent,” Mr. Ding said.

Xu Hongcai, an Economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said China will likely achieve 6.8 percent GDP growth in the first quarter, as the economy has made a mild recovery since last quarter.

“With improved foreign trade, domestic investment and manufacturing activity picking up, I expect the growth momentum to continue at 6.8 percent in the first quarter,” Mr. Xu said.

“While the correction in the property market and decline in auto sales will weigh on economic growth, the rise of the new economic drivers, such as tourism, high technology and the innovative industry will offset the negative impact,” he said.

 

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