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Govt on track to reach GDP growth goal
By Jiang Wei (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-02-28 08:35

The government is confident of achieving its goal of 8 percent GDP growth this year, despite the global financial crisis, a senior official said on Friday.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Liu Tienan, deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said the country has "the conditions and the confidence" to reach its target.

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China has not been immune to the effects of the global financial turmoil, and since the final quarter of last year overseas demand for Chinese products has fallen sharply.

Annual GDP growth slowed to 9 percent last year, from 13 percent in 2007, but worse could be yet to come in the first half of this year.

However, the country's financial system is healthy, its economic fundamentals are sound and in the first two months of this year, the economy showed some "positive signs", Liu said.

"Despite the downward pressure on the Chinese economy since the fourth quarter of last year, we have nonetheless seen some signs of recovery compared with previous months.

"When the measures (to stimulate the economy) take effect, we will be able to maintain stable growth," he said.

The government announced its plans for a stimulus package last month. It was primarily designed to support the automobile, steel, shipbuilding, textile, machinery, electronics and information technology, light industry, petrochemicals, non-ferrous metals and logistics industries.

The package calls for the restructuring of businesses in the key sectors, as well as imposing restrictions on the manufacture of high-polluting and resource-intensive products, and stressing the need for technological upgrading.

Govt on track to reach GDP growth goal

The stimulus plan has been designed not only to counter the effects of the economic slowdown but also to promote wide-reaching restructuring and upgrading that will help make China's industrial sector more environmentally friendly, Liu said.

Full details of the plan will be released in mid-March.

Some industries may take up to three years to implement the required measures, he said.

Liu also spoke of the possible threat of protectionism to China's economic growth, as countries seek to maintain their own growth amid the financial crisis.

"Protectionism may have some benefits in the short term, but it is a shortsighted option," he said.

There are no protectionist measures in China's stimulus plan, Liu said, citing the huge procurement deals a business delegation led by Commerce Minister Chen Deming has or is expected to sign with four European countries.

"Our concern is that some countries may impose restrictions on China's imports of hi-tech products," he said.

Buying spree

On Friday, the Chinese business delegation sealed deals worth $2 billion with British firms in London.

The agreement between Hainan Airlines and Rolls-Royce Plc was the largest deal, totaling $1.2 billion. Rolls-Royce is to provide 20 engines for the Airbus 330 of the Hong Kong fleet, in addition to a 15-year service support.

Britain is the third stop of the delegation.

On Thursday, the Chinese companies inked trade deals worth more than $300 million with their Swiss counterparts in Switzerland; and it signed more than 20 procurement deals with Spanish firms in Madrid on Wednesday which are worth $320 million.

Xinhua contributed to the story

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