Provinces eye initiatives to spur 2023 GDP growth

Updated: Jan 30, 2023 By Ouyang ShijIa in Beijing and Wang Ying in Shanghai Print
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A worker assembles a fluid handling system on Saturday at a factory in Haizhou Industrial Park in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province. CHENG YUHE/ FOR CHINA DAILY

Several provincial-level governments have announced incentive measures, including fostering high-quality development and optimizing the business environment, to encourage growth this year and spur recovery from the impact of COVID-19.

Experts said the actions show many governments are taking a more pro-growth stance, which will give a strong boost to the economy in 2023.

They said the impact of the virus will be short-lived, and the economy will rebound with the orderly implementation of the optimized COVID-19 containment measures as well as stimulus policies and follow-up measures taking effect.

Guangdong province will step up efforts to meet the annual target of GDP growth above 5 percent, including speeding up the implementation of projects mapped out by the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and boosting private sector investment. Ai Xuefeng, director of the provincial development and reform commission, made the statement at a conference on high-quality development on Saturday, the first working day after the Spring Festival holiday.

An action plan consisting of 10 points was released by the Shanghai municipal government on Sunday. According to the plan, three tasks — boosting confidence, expanding demand and seeking stable growth — are imperative, with the city aiming to achieve above 5.5 percent GDP growth in 2023. 

The plan focuses on stabilizing expectations, shoring up confidence, aiding enterprises in phases and pushing forward high-quality development. Bailing out enterprises, restoring consumption, extending investment, stabilizing foreign trade, elevating industrial innovation and creating a world-class business environment are among 10 measures included in the action plan. 

Officials from Zhejiang and Jilin provinces also held meetings on Saturday and pledged to make efforts to boost the digital economy and optimize the business environment.

Li Chao, chief economist at Zheshang Securities, said most provincial-level regions are targeting GDP growth of above 5 percent in 2023, voicing optimism for a notable economic rebound this year.

Li said that local governments are giving priority to expanding investment and spurring consumption.

Many provincial-level regions, such as Shandong and Henan, have announced measures to speed up the construction of key projects in 2023, especially in fields such as new energy, new materials, new technology, water resource management and transportation, which will inject impetus into the economy, Li said.

Despite the headwinds and challenges, China posted better-than-expected 3 percent economic growth in 2022, with many provincial-level regions reporting solid GDP growth last year.

At least eight provincial-level regions in China saw their total GDP exceed 5 trillion yuan ($737 billion) in 2022, with Guangdong and Jiangsu reaching over 12 trillion yuan, according to provincial government data.

Zhou Maohua, an analyst at China Everbright Bank, said China's economy is expected to expand by more than 5 percent this year, given the gradual return to normal work and production levels and stronger policy support.

However, Zhou also warned of difficulties and challenges ahead, such as high inflation across the globe and slowing international demand.

He said the government needs to boost domestic demand, strengthen coordination of fiscal and monetary policies and ease economic burdens on hard-hit enterprises and sectors.

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