China Lowers Growth Goal to About 7% as Li Flags Challenges (Bloomberg, Mar 5) Chinese Premier Li Keqiang set China’s lowest economic growth target in over 15 years during a work report delivered Thursday before the country’s legislature in Beijing. Last year, GDP expanded by 7.4%, the smallest increase in over two decades as policymakers embarked on a series of economic reforms aimed at promoting efficiency, marketization and industrial restructuring. Looking into the year ahead, overcapacity, lack of innovation and weakness in agriculture were tipped by China’s Premier as looming challenges.

Other goals mentioned by Li included keeping urban unemployment below 4.5% and expanding trade by about 6%. Some 13.2 million new urban jobs were created in China last year, up from 13.1 million during 2013.

China’s Core Inflation Rises 1.4% in February (BBC, Mar 10) China’s consumer price index rebounded sharply in February, although authorities attributed the upswing to the timing of the Chinese New Year holiday. The country’s consumer price index rose just 0.8% year-on-year in January, the smallest increase in 5 years. Meanwhile, deflation at the factory gate worsened, with the producers’ price index down 4.8% in February, compared with a decline of 4.3% in January.

Exports Jump in China, but Slide in Imports Signals Economic Weakness (Reuters, Mar 8) China’s trade surplus jumped to a record high of $60.6 billion in February as exports surged 48.3% year-on-year, customs data show. Specifically, exports to the US and the EU were up 48.5% and 44.1% respectively. During January and February, combined exports were up 15% year-on-year. While the increases come amid a general improvement in overseas demand, customs authorities in China noted that exporters typically ramp up shipments ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday.

Meanwhile, recent trade data also showed a 20% slump in imports during the first two months.

RELATED: China’s Commodity Imports Slow in February amid Annual Holiday (Reuters, Mar 8) Iron ore imports were down 13.5% month-on-month and 11% year-on-year during February. Coal imports tumbled as well, falling 9% month-on-month and 26% year-on-year. Crude oil imports edge up 1% month-on-month to 6.66 million barrels per day.

China’s New Oil Import Policy Positive for Quality, Prices: Governor (Reuters, Mar 7) In the wake of a downturn in global oil prices, Chinese authorities are allowing more independent refiners to import crude as the government eases retrictions meant to ensure supplies. Currently, state-owned giants Sinopec and PetroChina account for nearly 90% of the country’s crude imports. To apply for a crude import quota, refiners need to have a minimum annual refining capacity of 40,000 barrels per day and agree to dismantle outdated facilities.

Chinese Outbound Tourism Attracts World’s Attention (Xinhua, Mar 5) Some 109 million Chinese tourists went abroad last year, up 19.5% from 2013, according to Chinese tourism authorities. During last month’s Chinese New Year holiday, 5.18 million Chinese traveled overseas, up 10% from a year earlier. According to figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organization, Chinese travelers spent $129 billion abroad in 2013, more than any other group.

 

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