Posted by: Dexter Roberts on January 12, 2009
“Our aim is to be the first to recover from the financial crisis. We must have faith and determination.” That’s the optimistic goal and call for confidence, set over the weekend by China’s Premier Wen Jiabao, speaking while on a tour of the export-oriented and largely private economy of Jiangsu province.
Beijing plans to use a variety of measures, including providing tax benefits and easy access to credit to nine key industries, details of which are now being discussed and will be announced at the upcoming National People’s Congress in early March. While the ailing auto sector, plagued with massive overcapacity is certain to benefit, steel, non-ferrous metals, textiles, petrochemicals, and shipping are also to be targeted. Beijing too, will accelerate investment in key technology projects, including everything from water treatment to HIV AIDS prevention.
As 2008 rolled to a close, China recently released a host of economic numbers suggesting how tough things are likely to be this year. Exports fell in Nov, the first time in seven years, and industrial production also slowed markedly. Unemployment too is a big worry as thousands of small factories go bankrupt. Meanwhile, China’s big plans to boost consumption as an economic driver—particularly important as major world economies slow and stop buying Chinese-made shoes, textiles, toys and electronics—looks certain to be tough as Chinese consumer confidence wavers. “Faith and determination,” as the Premier called for in his speech, are certainly top priority, as a rough 2009 begins to unfold.