Guangdong province, the country's top economic powerhouse, is forecasting 8.5 percent GDP growth this year, a draft government report said yesterday.
The report is yet to be discussed by delegates to the provincial people's congress, which opens today in the provincial capital of Guangzhou.
Growth will be less than last year's 10.1 percent, sources close to the provincial people's congress said.
GDP of the province was about 3.57 trillion yuan ($522 billion) last year, down 4.6 percent on 2007.
"As the largest province in terms of GDP, Guangdong will face a tough time in 2009 as it has been greatly affected by the global financial crisis," Governor Huang Huahua said at a government work meeting in December 2008.
The first half of this year will be particularly tough for Guangdong's economic development, he said.
"We have not seen the bottom of the financial crisis. We expect the economy will slowly recover in the second half."
Foreign trade in the province will see zero increase this year, the draft report said.
Foreign trade in Guangdong, which accounts for about one-third of the country's total, fell from an increase of 20.3 percent in 2007 to only 7.8 percent, or $683.3 billion, last year, according to the report.
As a result of the financial crisis, a number of export-oriented firms in the Pearl River delta region have closed, it said.
"Foreign orders fell by 30-50 percent last year and financial organizations are worried about offering loans to export-oriented firms in the region," Huang said.
To tackle the problem, the province will intensify efforts to develop new markets in Africa, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), the Middle East and South America, according to sources with the Guangdong provincial development and reform commission.
The government will also set up a digital foreign trade network this year, to promote online exhibition and trade for export-oriented firms, sources said.
"Under the current global trade situation, Guangdong should develop a number of self-innovated brands and enhance the added value of its exports in a bid to maintain its lead in foreign trade development," Feng Shengping, a researcher with the provincial situation study and research center, said.