Chinese economy on right track to meet annual target

BEIJING (China Daily/ANN) - Stable development in Q1 laid a solid foundation for growth.

Despite seasonal weakening, the Chinese economy is on the right track to meet this year’s target, given adequate policy room and steady progress in economic restructuring, officials and experts said.

In April, China’s economic activities cooled slightly compared with the previous month, partly due to short-term factors, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday.

Fixed-asset investment expanded 6.1 per cent year-on-year in the first four months, down by 0.2 percentage point from the January-March period, but up 0.2 percentage point from the whole of 2018, the bureau said.

Industrial output grew 5.4 per cent in April, down from 8.5 per cent a month earlier, as enterprises produced more in March to reap the benefits of value-added tax cuts starting from April 1, said Liu Aihua, the bureau’s spokeswoman.

Retail sales increased by 7.2 per cent in April, down from 8.7 per cent in March.

This year, the May Day holiday started on May 1, two days later than in the previous year, leaving April 2019 with two fewer days of public holiday. Because people spend more during holidays-such as on travel during the May Day holiday-consumption in April this year was at a comparative disadvantage.

The urban employment situation improved in April, with the surveyed jobless rate in urban areas standing at 5 per cent, down from 5.2 per cent in March.

“The economy remained generally steady with improving momentum in April,” Liu said, while cautioning that the external environment remains complicated and that unstable and uncertain factors are on the rise.

But Liu said she has confidence in China’s growth prospects, citing the strong resilience and growing vigor of the economy.

Also, the current rather low inflation and fiscal deficit levels, as well as rather ample foreign reserves, have offered “relatively large room” for macro policies to offset external uncertainties, Liu said.

Tang Yao, an associate professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, said this year’s policy stabilisation efforts are expected to help China withstand the lingering trade tensions and achieve this year’s goal of economic growth and employment.

“There is no need to pay too much attention to monthly fluctuations in economic indicators, as seasonal and random factors often exaggerate actual changes in fundamentals,” Tang said.

China has set this year’s GDP growth target at between 6 per cent and 6.5 per cent, while keeping the jobless rate in urban areas at around 5.5 per cent. The economy recorded GDP growth of 6.4 per cent in the first quarter.

“The first quarter’s stable economic development laid a solid foundation for annual growth. We have the confidence, conditions and capability to meet the projected targets for economic and social development this year,” Yuan Da, spokesman for the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner, said in April.

Yang Weiyong, an associate professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said China should continue focusing on invigorating the private sector through reforms to strengthen the market’s role in allocating production factors, especially credit resources.

“When these reforms bear fruit, I believe the Chinese economy will have very bright growth prospects, both in the short and long term,” said Yang, adding that it would be unnecessary and harmful to launch major stimulus measures.

The industrial output of private enterprises grew by 9.1 per cent year-on-year between January and April, 2.9 percentage points faster than the overall industrial sector and 2.4 percentage points faster than the same period last year, according to the NBS.

Other signs of improved economic restructuring also emerged, with high-tech manufacturing output eclipsing the overall industrial sector with 11.2 per cent year-on-year growth in April, up 1.2 percentage points from March.

Ouyang Shijia contributed to this story.

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