China’s economy slows as virus outbreaks disrupt recovery

BEIJING (AP) — China said Wednesday its economy slowed in November, rocked by coronavirus outbreaks, weak demand and supply chain disruptions.

Retail sales were weaker than in October and inflationary pressures are complicating efforts to spur growth at a time when developers’ tightening borrowing limits are dampening construction and sales in the all-important real estate sector. .

The Beijing Winter Olympics from February 4 to 20 are likely to have “limited overall impact”, National Bureau of Statistics spokesman Fu Linghui told reporters, as pandemic restrictions limit travel and other activites.

Fu said the global environment was becoming “more complex and severe”, but China still expects to meet its economic targets for this year.

The new coronavirus was first reported in China and the ruling Communist Party has defended its success in containing the pandemic. Sporadic outbreaks and the emergence of new variants of the virus remain a constant challenge for both public health policies and the country’s economic recovery.

Concerns have been raised about the economic price paid to keep the virus under control through repeated lockdowns and other strict measures, including limits on international travel.

The economy grew at a surprisingly slow annual rate of 4.9% in July-September, compared to 7.9% in April-June.

In November, retail sales increased by 3.9% over the previous year, against 4.% the previous month. Industrial production picked up only slightly, rising 3.8% last month from 3.5% in October.

Leaders promised tax cuts and support for entrepreneurs after the campaign to curb rising corporate debt sparked bankruptcies and defaults among property developers.

Investors are waiting to see what happens to Evergrande Group, according to a developer analyst, which looks increasingly likely to default on $310 billion in debt. Small developers defaulted on millions of dollars in debt or went bankrupt.

Meanwhile, a crackdown on what regulators say is improper behavior by Chinese tech giants, including Alibaba Group, the world’s biggest e-commerce platform, has prompted jittery investors to slash more than 1,000 billions of dollars the price of their shares abroad.

Fu seemed to dismiss these concerns.

“With the coordination of pandemic prevention and control and economic and social development, as well as the effective implementation of macro policy adjustments, the major economic and social development goals for this year are expected to be achieved,” he said. he declared. “There is still strong support for the economy to overcome the difficulties and remain stable next year.”

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