At least seven Chinese provinces are setting lower growth targets for this year than in 2013, adding to signs that expansion will slow as the government focuses on policies to sustain the economy in the long term.
Hebei, which borders Beijing in the north, set an 8 percent growth goal amid “unprecedented pressure” from air-pollution controls, according to an annual work report published yesterday in the official Hebei Daily. Last year’s target was 9 percent. Fujian in the southeast and Gansu and Ningxia in the northwest are also targeting slower expansion, state-run websites show.
President Xi Jinping is trying to shift local officials’ focus to environmental protection and containing debt rather than just short-term economic growth. The latest regional targets suggest leaders will set a national goal this year of 7 percent, down from 7.5 percent in 2013, said Dariusz Kowalczyk, a senior economist and strategist at Credit Agricole CIB.
“We are facing increasingly severe difficulties and contradictions,” Hebei Governor Zhang Qingwei said in the work report delivered Jan. 8, according to Hebei Daily. Setting an 8 percent growth goal indicates a focus on more concrete and reasonable growth, improving people’s lives, ample employment and the quality of development, he said.
The central government normally publishes the country’s growth goal in March at the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress. Last year’s target was 7.5 percent, and the State Council said in December that the economy probably grew 7.6 percent in 2013. Additional provinces may announce 2014 growth goals in the coming days as regional congresses meet.
Caixin, a Chinese financial news provider, reported last month that China plans a 7.5 percent growth target for 2014.
The People’s Bank of China is scheduled today to release lending and money-supply figures for December, providing more information on how last month’s money-market cash crunch will affect the economic outlook for 2014.
Money-supply growth probably slowed in December and the broadest measure of new credit fell from a year earlier, based on the median estimates of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.
Guizhou, whose growth target of 14 percent last year was the highest among China’s provinces, will ensure expansion of 12.5 percent in 2014 and strive for about 13 percent, the state-run China News Service reported Dec. 20. Guangxi has a 2014 target of 10 percent growth, according to a Jan. 2 article on the People’s Daily website, down from an 11 percent goal last year.
The coastal province of Fujian set a 2014 growth goal of 10.5 percent, according to a Jan. 12 report on the People’s Daily website. That compares with an 11 percent target in 2013.
Gansu expects growth of 11 percent this year, according to a report from state-run provincial television posted yesterday on the Gansu Daily website. Last year’s target was 12 percent.
Ningxia’s chairman said in a Dec. 25 speech that this year’s growth target is about 10 percent, according to the remarks posted Dec. 31 on the People’s Daily website. The 2013 goal was 12 percent.
Beijing Communist Party Secretary Guo Jinlong said last month that the city would set a 7.5 percent growth goal for this year, compared with the 8 percent target for 2013.
Not all provinces are setting a lower target. Tibet has a goal of 12 percent growth in 2014, according to Chinatibetnews.com, website of the official Tibet Daily. That’s the same as the 2013 target.
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