Thursday, March 06, 2014

China Holds National People's Congress in Beijing

Chinese leaders join lawmakers in panel discussions | 2014-03-06 07:53:57 | Editor: Yang Lina

BEIJING, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday urged the financial hub of Shanghai to continue its leading role in spearheading the country's ongoing reform and opening-up drive.

Xi made the remarks while taking part in a panel discussion with a delegation from Shanghai during the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC).

He encouraged officials to make bold moves in the Shanghai free trade zone (FTZ), launched last year as a test bed for deepening market-oriented reforms, to explore applicable systems for nationwide replication.

China aims to liberalize interest rates, facilitate cross-border use of the Chinese yuan and allow individuals in the zone to sidestep China's restrictions on investing in securities abroad.

The FTZ has also been billed as an outpost to test greater liberalization of China's service sector.

Stressing that the FTZ is a national strategy, Xi called for greater efforts in facilitating trade and investment, as well as effective supervision and legal regulation, to achieve concrete results.

"Stress tests should also be carried out to prevent systematic risks, especially from the financial sector," he added.

The president also called for innovations in Shanghai's social management and governance.

The 12th NPC, China's parliamentary body, opened its second annual session on Wednesday morning at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

China's GDP to top 10 trillion USD by 2014
2014-03-05 23:01:46
Editor: yan

BEIJING, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Based on China's newly announced economic growth target, the country's GDP is projected to top 10 trillion U.S. dollars by 2014. But experts say that China should stress key reforms to improve quality of growth, rather than emphasizing GDP alone.

"Based on careful comparison and repeated weighing of various factors, as well as considering what is needed and what is possible, we set a growth target of around 7.5 percent," said the government work report delivered by Premier Li Keqiang at the parliament's annual session Wednesday.

This is the third consecutive year that the government has put the goal at 7.5 percent.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 7.7 percent in 2013 from the previous year, overshooting the government target of 7.5 percent to reach 56.9 trillion yuan (about 9.3 trillion U.S. dollars), according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics.

If this year's economic growth target is achieved and the current USD to yuan exchange rate remains stable, China's GDP could top 61.1 trillion yuan (about 10 trillion dollars) by the end of 2014, making China the world's second-largest economy.

Despite recent depreciation, China's currency, the yuan or RMB, is expected to remain stable or appreciate, given the strong fundamentals of the Chinese economy.

Lu Ting, chief China economist with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said his institution continues to expect some yuan appreciation in 2014 with a year-end target of 6.00 yuan against the dollar.

There is no basis for sustained yuan depreciation, as China's trade surplus is expected to rise to 280 billion dollars in 2014 from 265 dollars in 2013, he said in a research note.


China will keep its economic growth target unchanged at around 7.5 percent this year as the government looks to achieve stable growth while driving through reforms for a more balanced model.

Maintaining 6-7 percent growth while also implementing meaningful reforms would be optimal for China, said Ryan Rutkowski, a China Research Analyst with the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics.

"The worst case is if China goes back up to 8-10 percent growth driven by another boom in real estate and infrastructure investment," Rutkowski told Xinhua.

Li's report detailed specific measures to address overcapacity, a major drag on the economy. The government aims to reduce outdated production capacity by 27 million metric tons of steel, 42 million metric tons of cement and 35 million standard containers of plate glass.

Rutkowski's view was echoed by David Dollar, a senior fellow with the Washington-based Brookings Institution, who said that reforms can be a driver of China's growth, and reforms to spur domestic demand are critical.

"For example, easing up on the hukou system will enable more people to leave low-productivity agriculture and move to cities to find better jobs. Opening up the service sectors like finance, telecommunications, logistics and media to investment from the private sector will stimulate new investment and growth," Dollar told Xinhua.

Among the reform steps planned for 2014 that Li announced is the establishment of a deposit insurance system, which is considered a precondition for freeing deposit rates -- the last and most important step in interest rate liberalization.

"The government is already doing a good job of balancing growth and pushing forward reforms. But it could move faster on priority items such as reforms to financial services," Rutkowski added.

"One of the best ways policymakers could support growth while implementing these reforms would be further opening up the service sector to private competition, especially financial services, IT and telecommunications, business and technical services, and entertainment," said Rutkowski.

"The Shanghai FTZ is a good first step, but the parts of it related to service sector barriers should really be expanded more rapidly nationwide," he added.

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