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Food price rises set to continue
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-14 22:48

The recent rise in the price of agricultural products and other foodstuffs in Beijing will continue until the end of this year to early next year, top officials with the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics predicted Thursday.

"Although it has had no obvious economic impact, the price fluctuation has greatly influenced the lives of poorer people in Beijing," Yu Xiuqin, spokeswoman and vice-director of the bureau said yesterday at a press conference.

The average annual disposable personal income of the poorest urban residents in Beijing in the first nine months of this year was 4,600 yuan (US$560), only 2 per cent higher than the figure for the same period last year, according to Yu.

In comparison, the richest group in the capital city has an annual disposable income of 27,200 yuan (US$3,300), 24 per cent up compared with last year.

"The gap between the rich and poor is widening in Beijing," Yu said yesterday.

She stressed that the Beijing municipal government has adopted measures to aid the low-income group, such as enhancing the minimum standard of living.

Farmers' annual income was 6,140 yuan (US$740) according to statistics for the first nine months of 2004, an annual increase of 10 per cent.

It was also announced yesterday that Beijing achieved a gross domestic product of 297 billion yuan (US$36 billion) in the first nine months of 2004, a year-on-year rise of 13 per cent.

The rate is 0.8 percentage points lower than that of the first quarter, according to the spokeswoman.

"The economy returned to stabler development compared with the high-speed growth witnessed earlier this year," she said.

Fixed assets investment reached 153 billion yuan (US$18 billion) in the first three quarters of 2004, 16 per cent up on last year.

The growth rate dropped by 21 and 6 percentage points respectively compared with the figures for the first quarter and the first half of this year.

And Beijing's international tourism market continued to climb out of the doldrums of last year's SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak.

Around 2 million overseas tourists visited Beijing during the first nine months of 2004, a year-on-year rise of 82 per cent.

The figure nearly reached that of 2002, that is, 95 per cent of the figure for the same period in 2002, sources said.

Exports also continued to rise this year.

The total export volume of local enterprises reached US$7.2 billion between January and September, 38 per cent higher than the figure last year.

Beijing attracted foreign investment worth US$2.6 billion in the first nine months of 2004, a year-on-year rise of 50 per cent.

Due to the city's rapid economic growth, the registered unemployment rate remained stable by the end of September.

The rate was 1.39 per cent, 0.06 percentage points lower than the figure last year.

Nearly 63 per cent of residents registered as unemployment found new jobs, 1.8 percentage points higher than the same period last year.

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