A senior mainland official expects this year's profits for state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to come in close to last year's levels. The aggregate profits from enterprises the state owns, or in which it has a stake, are anticipated to come in at 230 billion yuan (about HK$215.5 billion) this year, the Minister of the State Economic and Trade Commission, Li Rongrong, said. Last year, profits at China's state-owned enterprises tripled to 239.2 billion yuan, according to government figures. In October, Mr Li said the profits from these enterprises had risen a year on year 13.7 per cent in the first eight months - to 155.5 billion yuan. This suggests that the profits garnered in the four months since then have slowed significantly. During his October address Mr Li revealed this possibility. 'But the negative impact of the slowdown of the world economy on SOEs has already begun to tell and it will make itself felt more keenly in the future,' he said. A report from Xinhua yesterday quoted Mr Li as saying several of the mainland's state-owned enterprises (SOEs) managed to stay competitive despite the global economic downturn. Steel producer Shanghai Baogang Group ranked first in terms of profits in its industry, while oil giant CNOOC was this year named one of the best-managed companies in Asia. Xinhua did not report how many enterprises were profitable, neither did it report if the profits were inflated, as happened last year, by the strong performances of state-owned oil giants Sinopec, China National Petroleum Corp and CNOOC. This year marks the final chance for Premier Zhu Rongji to come good on his famous 1999 pledge to ensure the mainland's 6,599 large and medium-sized state-owned enterprises are firmly in the black.