Guangzhou still aims high for 12pc growth

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 March, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 March, 2003, 12:00am

Guangzhou has set a target of 12 per cent economic growth for this year that takes into account any impact from the Iraq war, acting mayor Zhang Guangning said.

Mr Zhang announced the target during his annual work report to the Guangzhou People's Congress that opened yesterday.

'We have expected the war to break out for some time. The effect will not be very serious because exports account for only about 15 per cent of Guangzhou's gross domestic product,' he said.

Mr Zhang, who is expected to be elected the city's next mayor, said foreign direct investment and total trade volume were both expected to grow by 5 per cent.

Local economists said the goals were realistic.

'The impact of the war on Guangzhou will not be great as a number of big projects will be undertaken this year and they will drive the economy along,' said Lu Jun, the head of Zhongshan University's Finance Department.

The city government will spend 11.5 billion yuan (HK$10.9 billion) on 30 infrastructure and industrial projects this year.

The projects include completion of a new international airport, continued work on three subway lines and several highways, and expansion of the city's Honda and Nissan car plants. Preparation work will also begin on nine other projects including the Nansha port and a cold-rolled steel plant.

The growth target was one percentage point lower than a forecast last December by the Guangzhou Economic and Social Development Research Centre, a party committee think-tank.

Guangzhou's GDP grew by 13 per cent last year and total trade surged by 18.6 per cent.