Shanghai Looks to Free-Trade Zone as Growth Target Held at 7.5%

Shanghai maintained its economic growth target for 2014 at the same pace as last year’s 7.5 percent as the city seeks to develop its new free-trade zone.

“We seek substantive progress with pilot reforms” this year and will make “all-out efforts” to build the zone, Mayor Yang Xiong said in a work report to the municipal people’s congress today. He cited cross-border yuan settlement, yuan convertibility under the capital account and interest rate liberalization among planned changes.

At least nine Chinese provinces have set lower growth targets for this year than in 2013, adding to signs that the nation’s expansion will slow as the government focuses on policies to sustain the economy in the long term. In September, Shanghai inaugurated a free-trade zone as a testing ground for free-market policies as part of a broader goal to become a global financial services and logistics center by 2020.

Shanghai’s economy grew an estimated 7.7 percent last year, Yang said, driven by services industries. Finance, information services, culture and creative industries expanded at double-digit rates, he said.

Inflation in China’s commercial hub will be “kept in line with the national price control target,” after consumer prices rose 2.3 percent last year, Yang said today. Urban unemployment will be capped under 4.5 percent, the same as last year, he said.

China is scheduled to announce fourth-quarter and full-year GDP data tomorrow. The economy may have expanded 7.7 percent in 2013, according to the median estimate of analysts in a Bloomberg News survey. That would be the same as 2012’s pace, which was the weakest since 1999’s 7.6 percent.

— With assistance by Gregory Turk

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