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China: 'Arduous efforts' needed to meet 2019 industrial output goal

Beijing

CHINA'S industry ministry said on Tuesday that "arduous efforts" will be needed to achieve this year's industrial output growth target, as trade protectionism weighs on exports and clouds the outlook for the world's second-largest economy.

Ongoing reforms and restructuring of the country's industrial sectors pose additional challenges, Vice-Industry and Information Technology Minister Xin Guobin told reporters at a news conference in Beijing.

China's economic growth slowed to 6.2 per cent in the second quarter, its weakest pace in at least 27 years, as demand at home and abroad faltered in the face of mounting US trade pressure.

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Beijing has said that it can still meet its 2019 growth target of 6-6.5 per cent, and continues to roll out stimulus measures to prop up activity. China set a 2019 industrial output growth target of 5.5-6 per cent.

Output growth fell to a 17-year low of 5 per cent in May from a year earlier, but rebounded to 6.3 per cent in June. Still, analysts are unsure if the gains are sustainable, with the Sino-US trade war still raging and factory surveys showing that new orders are continuing to shrink.

Output grew 6 per cent in the first half of the year, Mr Xin said, adding that the country still faces significant challenges in stabilising production given a big drop in growth of industrial product exports.

Trade pressures have intensified since Washington sharply raised tariffs on Chinese goods in May. While the two sides have since agreed to resume trade talks and hold off on further punitive action, they remain at odds over significant issues needed for an agreement.

The prolonged trade war is pushing some Chinese and foreign manufacturers to move capacity to neighbouring countries and rebuild supply chains outside China.

Companies relocating production is normal and in line with market rules, Mr Xin said, adding that the impact of such moves on China's economic growth, its labour market and industrial upgrading is controllable overall.

In southern Guangdong, 588 foreign manufacturers adjusted their capacity and moved to Vietnam, Thailand or Malaysia last year, but they accounted for only 1.44 per cent of all foreign manufacturers in the province, Mr Xin added.

China will help ease pressure on firms forced to relocate production, push forward breakthroughs in key technologies and strengthen Chinese firms' ability to resist shocks, another industry ministry official said at the briefing. REUTERS