Li seeks ‘good beginning’ to economy in 2014
Priorities include maintaining growth and controlling inflation
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