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China Economy Weekly: Rail Projects, Inflation, International Trade Links

Written by PROF. SCOTT LUCAS

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 13:44

Chinese_flag_China Clears Inter-city Rail Projects: The National Development and Reform Commission on Friday approved inter-city rail transit networks covering more than 2,000 kilometres to accelerate regional integration.‬
The network runs across central China, mainly in Henan province, and is expected to link nine cities with its 496 kilometres.‬ It also includes alterations to railways across the Pearl River Delta region, with a length of 1,478 kilometres, and to metro lines in Xi’an, the capital city of northwest China’s Shaanxi province.

China, Switzerland to Start Free Trade Talks: China and Switzerland agreed on Friday to start discussions on a free trade agreement, as the two states celebrate their 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties.‬

Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Swiss counterpart, Doris Leuthard, witnessed the signing of the memorandum of understanding. Switzerland has become China’s major trade partner in Europe, and Leuthard said the two states should boost cooperation in finance, education, culture, environmental protection, tourism, and international affairs.

China’s July Inflation: China’s consumer price index (CPI), one of the main gauges of inflation, rose in July to its highest level since October 2008, boosted by rising food prices after widespread floods.

The CPI was up 3.3% in July from a year earlier, 0.4% higher than the rise in June. It has now exceeded the 3-percent full-year target ceiling the government set in March. However, economists said the acceleration in CPI growth was a temporary result of the floods.

The Producer Price Index, a major measure of inflation at the wholesale level, grew 4.8% year on year in July, 1.6% lower than June and 2.3% lower than May.

China’s Consumer Confidence Edges Up : China’s Consumer Confidence Index stood at 109 in the second quarter, up one point from the first quarter.The reading in the second quarter was the fifth consecutive quarterly rise.

China calls for more investment with ASEAN: Bilateral investment between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is low compared with trade, Yi Xiaozhun, vice minister of China’s Ministry of Commerce, said Friday.

In 2009, bilateral investment between China and ASEAN nations totaled $10 billion, a sharp contrast with the $213 billion of bilateral trade, said Yi, attributing the low investment to the fragmented infrastructure within the China-ASEAN region.

Sri Lanka Co-operation China: Visiting Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris, on his first official visit to China since taking office in April, pledged Thursday to boost economic and trade cooperation with China.

Sri Lanka appreciates China’s support in constructing education and medical facilities, he said.

Sri Lanka’s civil war ended in May 2009 after the the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was defeated by government troops.

Zimbabwe Seeks Economic Links in East China: Zimbabwe hopes to further its economic and trade co-operation with east China’s Anhui Province, said visiting Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Thursday.

Zhang Baoshun, secretary of the Anhui Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, said that Anhui and Zimbabwe, which were economically complementary, had reached consensus on co-operation in agriculture, mining and infrastructure.

China Investment in Chile: China attaches great importance to economic cooperation with Chile and is committed to boosting mutual investment between the two countries, Lu Fan, the Chinese ambassador to Chile has said.

In the first half of this year, bilateral trade reached $10.9 billion, an increase of 58.9 percent compared with the same period of 2009, and Chilean exports amounted to $7.65 billion.

The Supplementary Agreement on Trade in Services of the Free Trade Agreement between China and Chile took effect on 1 August, and negotiations are underway on a supplementary agreement on investment.

Brazil Agricultural trade with China: Brazil wants to boost trade with China in agricultural products, and will export more pork to and import more fish from China in the next few years, Brazilian Agriculture Minister Wagner Rossi said Thursday.

Automobiles, Home Appliance Subsidies Spur Chinese Spending: Chinese government subsidies for purchases of automobiles and home appliances have boosted consumer spending and bolstered the national economy, the Ministry of Commerce said Thursday.

China rolled out the subsidy policies for rural consumers last year. In the first seven months of 2010, the government paid out 9.57 billion yuan ($1.41 billion), lifting sales in rural regions to 83.82 billion yuan (about $12.5 billion), up 240% from a year ago.

China State Enterprises Grow: The assets in China’s centrally-administered state-owned enterprises (SOE) reached 2.01 trillion yuan ($297.40 billion) by the end of June, up 10.71% from 2008, China’s state-owned assets regulator said on Thursday.

Nearly a quarter of the SOEs have state-owned assets over 10 billion yuan each, while six have state-owned assets over 100 billion yuan.

Housing Market Regulation to Continue: Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang said Friday that the government would continue to regulate the housing market and resolutely crack down on speculative property investment.

He said the government would continue to increase the supply of affordable housing for low-income families to consolidate the effects of the regulation over the past months.

Housing prices in major Chinese cities rose 10.3% year-on-year in July, slower than the 11.4% growth in June.

 

Scott Lucas is Professor of American Studies at the University of Birmingham, where he has worked since 1989. A specialist in US and British foreign policy, he has written and edited seven books, more than 30 major articles, and a radio documentary and co-directed the 2007 film Laban!. Formerly a journalist in the United States, Scott has written for newspapers including The Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman. He appears regularly on British, American, and international radio and television as a specialist on current affairs, politics, and history. His blog began life as Watching America at Libertas: The Centre For US Foreign Policy.

 

A native of Alabama in the United States, Scott is assisted by his wife and two children, one of whom has his own political blog, and is plagued by his loyalty to Leeds United Football Club. He is also a proud member of Red Sox Nation.

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