Top Chinese economy officials confident of achieving growth target despite challenges
Head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) He Lifeng (C), deputy heads of the NDRC Zhang Yong (R) and Ning Jizhe, take questions during a press conference on innovation and improvement of macro-economic control and promotion of high quality development for the first session of the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing, capital of China, March 6, 2018.[Photo:Xinhua]
China's economic planner is expressing confidence in achieving the 6.5 percent annual growth target set for this year by the Chinese government, suggesting domestic consumption will become a stronger force behind economic growth.
He Lifeng, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, says the 6.5 percent growth target set in this year's government work report is "attainable" through hard work.
Speaking on the sidelines of the NPC sessions, China's top legislature, He Lifeng is pointing to economic momentum, resilience, and market potential for his optimism.
"Year-end clearing stats show China's GDP reached 82.7 trillion yuan, which is the equivalent of over 12.2 trillion U.S. dollars. The number is over 7 trillion U.S. dollars less than the world's largest economy, the United States, but over 7 trillion U.S. dollars more than the world's third largest economy, Japan. China remains the world's second largest economy. It hasn't been easy. The total GDP volumes have increased by 1.27 trillion US dollars with a growth rate of 6.9 percent. Per capita GDP has seen an increase of around 900 US dollars. "
Senior officials reviewing Premier Li Keqiang's government work report delivered Monday are suggesting the projected growth rate of 6.5-percent for this year reflects a priority on quality of development, rather than the pace of growth.
Chinese authorities have been working for several years to create an economy based on sustainable growth through personal consumption.
In 2017, consumption contributed nearly 59 percent to China's growth, a nearly 4-percent increase compared to five years ago.
He Lifeng says with the further development of emerging industries and the service sector, consumption should continue to grow at a similar pace.
"I estimate that with rapid development in newly-emerging industries and the service sector, consumers might contribute close to or surpass 60 percent of our economic growth. This year we will increase investments where we are facing shortfalls, including those in the real economy and private businesses, so these should hold a rate of contribution of one third of the economy."
For foreign trade, He Lifeng estimates it will contribute 8 to 9 percent toward economic growth, as long as the world economy maintains its current growth patterns.
He says the government intends to bolster foreign trade through a variety of programs, including the first-ever China International Import Expo, which is set to be held in November this year.
Official stats show foreign direct investment reached 131 billion U.S. dollars last year, ranking second in the world.
Ning Jizhe, deputy director of NDRC, says foreign investment will remain an important part of China's economy.
"We plan to greatly relax market access, promote investment and encourage foreign capital to move into more regions. The negative list approach to market entry, which states sectors and businesses that are off limits to foreign investment, will be expanded nationwide. We are going to fully open up general manufacturing and substantially improve the opening of the service sector."
The national economic planning agency is also promising full protection for intellectual property rights.
Ning Jizhe also says more favorable policies are being worked on for capital transfer and land use for foreign investment in the central, western and northeast regions of China, putting them on-par with policies currently enjoyed by domestic investors.
At the same time, the NDRC says the government will continue reducing overcapacity in traditional industries, while at the same time, working toward reducing local government deficits.