China’s Central Economic Work Conference to address concerns, policy goals to remain largely unchanged

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/12/18 19:48:39

Policy goals to remain largely unchanged

A worker operates machines at a factory in Yancheng, East China's Jiangsu Province in October, 2018. Photo: VCG

A key meeting of China's top economic policymakers this week is set to discuss rising challenges for the world's second-largest economy, both at home and abroad, and offer signs of how top officials will tackle problems ranging from slower growth to trade disputes and reforms.

At this year's Central Economic Work Conference, top policymakers are likely to project confidence in the Chinese economy amid rising concerns and reiterate long-sought policy goals, particularly with regard to reform and opening-up, analysts said. But slight adjustments are also likely in areas such as growth targets and monetary and fiscal policies.

An official date for the annual gathering of central and provincial government officials, to be held behind closed doors, has yet to be announced, but some media reports suggest the meeting could be convened as early as Wednesday.

As is the case for previous sessions, there won't be major policy shifts announced following the meeting, but, given fresh challenges that have emerged this year, including a tit-for-tat trade war with the US and slower-than-expected growth in key sectors, the overall focus could be slightly different.

Last year's meeting focused on preventing financial risks, but this year both internal and external risks have exceeded expectations, which makes stabilizing key policies the top priority for Chinese officials at the moment and for the foreseeable future, Shen Jianguang, chief economist at JD Finance, wrote in an article on Monday.

Externally, China has been engaged in a trade war with the US that has seen tariffs imposed on billions of dollars of Chinese products. Domestically, consumption is stagnating, infrastructure spending is declining, the private economy is unstable and capital markets lack confidence, Shen pointed out in the article published by financial news website

"I expect this year's Central Economic Work Conference will face the reality of 'intensifying economic slowdown,'" Shen wrote, adding that policymakers may make stabilizing measures key for six areas: employment, the financial sector, foreign trade, foreign investment, domestic investment and market expectations.

The focus on stabilizing these areas was also highlighted in a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on December 13. The meeting, which is often a preview of the Central Economic Work Conference, said that China will adhere to the general theme of "making progress while ensuring stability."

Shen said officials could lower the growth target for next year to 6 percent, to make room for stepping up reform efforts and dealing with external risks.

Tian Yun, vice president of the Beijing Economic Operation Association, also believed that a target of 6 percent GDP growth rate "is more realistic" than other suggestions between 6 and 6.5 percent.

Analysts also said China is likely to increase fiscal spending in infrastructure projects to boost fixed-asset investment, while keeping a "neutral to loose" monetary policy to stimulate growth and support private companies.

Newspaper headline: Key meeting to address concerns


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