Leaders end annual summit by setting goal of steady but moderate expansion Central government leaders wrapped up their annual economic summit yesterday, highlighting the need to 'strengthen and improve' macroeconomic control measures next year. The Central Economic Work Conference made the macro measures the priority of the tasks it set for next year. The conference is an annual meeting held by the Communist Party's Central Committee and the State Council to map out the country's economic strategy. President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao delivered speeches at the three-day meeting in Beijing. Xinhua reported last night that the conference affirmed the need to maintain a prudent monetary policy and stable fiscal policy. A closing statement highlighted the positive effect of the macroeconomic measures adopted this year, but noted that 'chronic and deeply entrenched problems' still existed in the economy. 'The macroeconomic controls have rendered considerable achievements up to this point but we still have outstanding contradictions and problems in the economic operation,' it said. 'The overall tasks for next year's economic work are ... to strengthen and improve macro control policies in order to guarantee a steady but mildly fast economic development.' As expected, the meeting declared more support for rural development, saying the fundamental role of agriculture in the economy needed to be strengthened. Continued efforts should be made to further boost agricultural capacity, grain output and farmers' incomes, the statement said. Other priorities included continued structural readjustment of the economy and transformation of the basis of the nation's economic growth. Improving international competitiveness and the co-ordination between domestic economic development and the open-door policy were other priorities. The conference statement appears to support analysts' predictions that the government will try to accelerate the pace of economic reforms next year. It said economic reform was key to the country's sustainable development. China's trade will surpass US$1.1 trillion this year - 60 per cent of gross domestic product, according to Li Xiaochao, a top official from the State Statistics Bureau. 'This means China has established itself as the world's manufacturing base and an integral part of the world economy,' Mr Li said yesterday. The meeting also stressed the need to achieve economic balance between the poor western provinces, stagnating central areas and east coast economic powerhouses. The importance of social stability was also stressed by top officials at the summit, which was held at a sensitive time with a spate of protests occurring in Sichuan and Henan provinces. While the economy was the focus of next year's national work agenda, the government would also strive to build a harmonious and humane society and to rejuvenate the country through science and education, the statement said.