China sets 2021 GDP growth target at over 6%

BEIJING – Chinese leaders have said they will aim for gross domestic product growth of 6% or more this year, a relatively modest target that nonetheless indicates continued optimism after a year in which the coronavirus has gutted the global economy .

The growth target of 6% or more, announced Friday in Beijing by Premier Li Keqiang, is comfortably below the consensus expectations of most economists for growth of 8% or more in the world’s second largest economy this year. year.

Even so, many economists had predicted that Beijing would abandon the digital goal altogether, after a year in which uncertainties in the Covid-19 pandemic pushed China to abandon its target for the first time since 1994.

China’s economy recovered relatively quickly an initial outbreak centered in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and ended the year with a economic expansion of 2.3%, becoming the only major economy to show growth in 2020.

With growth momentum approaching pre-virus levels, policymakers in Beijing have signaled that they plan to phase out stimulus measures and instead focus on debt reduction and emerging bubble in the real estate market.

Li said in his government annual report on Friday that the government would seek to reduce the budget deficit ratio target to 3.2% of China’s projected GDP this year, from a target above 3.6% in 2020.

Beijing also plans to reduce the amount of debt that local governments are allowed to raise this year. China plans to let communities issue 3.65 trillion yuan in local government special purpose bonds in 2021, lower than the 3.75 trillion yuan forecast last year. Bonds are mainly used to finance infrastructure projects.

Li said China aims to keep consumer price inflation around 3% in 2021, compared to last year’s target of 3.5% and its actual increase of 2, 5%.

The government also announced that it plans to create 11 million new jobs this year, above the target of nine million new jobs for 2020. It also aimed to cap the polled urban unemployment rate at 5, 5% in 2021, against a ceiling of 6% in 2020.

Write to Jonathan Cheng at [email protected]

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