Li seeks ‘good be­gin­ning’ to econ­omy in 2014

Pri­or­i­ties in­clude main­tain­ing growth and con­trol­ling in­fla­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By CHEN JIA and LI XIAOKUN

Premier Li Ke­qiang has called on the na­tion to pre­pare to tackle some of the econ­omy’s wors­en­ing risks, pro­vid­ing China with a “good be­gin­ning” to 2014.

The “good be­gin­ning”, he stressed, would re­quire main­tain­ing the de­sired growth mo­men­tum in the first quar­ter to avoid an un­ex­pected slow­down.

The premier made the re­marks at a meet­ing of the State Coun­cil to dis­cuss the an­nual govern­ment work re­port that it will sub­mit for law­mak­ers’ ap­proval at the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress an­nual ses­sion in March.

The re­port will pro­pose the tar­gets for GDP growth and in­fla­tion for 2014.

In 2013, China had a GDP growth rate of 7.7 per­cent yearon-year, as op­posed to its tar­get of 7.5 per­cent, while con­sumer in­fla­tion was kept at 2.6 per­cent, well un­der its tar­get of 3.5 per­cent.

How­ever, the premier warned: “We still face a grim sit­u­a­tion at the start of 2014, which re­quires a se­ri­ous ef­fort to de­liver the na­tion’s sus­tain­able, healthy eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment.”

He called for ac­cel­er­at­ing the econ­omy’s struc­tural re­forms and pro­mot­ing agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion while sta­bi­liz­ing prices.

Econ­o­mists warned that con­sumer in­fla­tion pres­sure may in­crease af­ter Lu­nar New Year be­cause of the usu­ally dry weather that has hit the na­tion.

Lian Ping, chief econ­o­mist at the Bank of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, said that this year it will be dif­fi­cult to keep the con­sumer price in­dex, a main gauge of in­fla­tion, at its low 2013 level of 2.6 per­cent.

En­sur­ing suf­fi­cient food sup­ply, es­pe­cially in grain, is im­por­tant to con­trol con­sumer in­fla­tion, as food prices ac­count for about 30 per­cent of the CPI, he said.

“The CPI is likely to rise 3 per­cent year-on-year in 2014,” Lian said.

Be­sides the in­fla­tion pres­sure, an­other risk is that the Chi­nese econ­omy may con­tinue the trend of soft­en­ing growth mo­men­tum in the first three months that be­gan in the fourth quar­ter of 2013, an­a­lysts said.

ey ex­pect that a slow­down of GDP growth to less than 7.5 per­cent in the first quar­ter from 7.7 per­cent in the Oc­to­ber-toDe­cem­ber pe­riod is pos­si­ble be­cause of mod­er­ate in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion and in­vest­ment amid weaker de­mand.

The man­u­fac­tur­ing pur­chas­ing man­agers in­dex, a gauge to in­di­cate this sec­tor’s op­er­at­ing con­di­tions, is ex­pected to re­treat to 49.6 in Jan­uary from 50.5 in De­cem­ber, Bri­tish bank HSBC re­ported on Thurs­day.

It would be the first time since Au­gust that the man­u­fac­tur­ing

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