China economy

China confident of maintaining strong growth, Premier Li Keqiang tells heads of six global agencies

Nation’s economy was becoming healthier and more sustainable, Li tells IMF, World Bank, WTO chiefs

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 September, 2017, 3:43pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 September, 2017, 10:45pm

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Tuesday he was confident China would maintain the strong economic growth it achieved in the first half of the year.

Speaking at a press briefing after a round-table meeting with the heads of six global agencies, including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation, Li said China’s economy was becoming healthier and more sustainable.

“Judging from the trend of China’s economy over the past few months, it will continue to maintain the momentum of the first half of this year,” he said.

“There will not be any big changes to the trend of China’s economic development.”

The “1+6” dialogue was established in July 2016 when Beijing was working hard to persuade the world that neither its economy nor its currency was on the brink of crashing.

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Since then, the situation is has changed significantly. China’s GDP expanded 6.9 per cent in the first half of this year, compared with 6.7 per cent for the whole of 2016, while the yuan has gained almost 6 per cent against the US dollar since January.

Besides the improvements in the headline figures, Li said China’s economy was becoming healthier and more sustainable.

“China has shifted from excessive reliance on investments and exports to a coordinated development of consumption, investment and exports,” Li said.

The progress achieved in shutting down obsolete industrial facilities had “exceeded our expectation”, he added.

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Li said also that China’s debt situation, which has been a source of concern regarding the stability of its economy, was “under control”. He did not mention the yuan’s exchange rate.

Speaking at the press briefing, which was attended by all six of the visiting dignitaries, Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, noted China’s continued “leadership in promoting open trade” and said its “Belt and Road Initiative” was expected to help infrastructure spending around the world.

The way in which Li had “embraced” multilateral trade was “critical in what has become a very challenging time”, he said.

Christine Lagarde managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said the IMF was seeing the “progress of reform across a wide range of areas” in China. The agency would continue to offer its “strong support” to China’s reform efforts in terms of boosting consumption, increasing the role of market forces and focusing on the quality rather than quantity of growth, she said.

“Your leadership is as clear as the blue sky in Beijing today,” Lagarde said.

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The four other leaders at the talks were Roberto Azevedo, director general of the World Trade Organisation; Guy Ryder, director general of the International Labour Organisation; Angel Gurria, secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development; and Mark Carney, chairman of the Financial Stability Board.