SCIO briefing on China's economic performance in first quarter of 2021

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Shenzhen Special Zone Daily and Dute News: 

According to the statistics released, CPI growth was consistently negative during the first two months of this year, only becoming positive in March for the first time, and thus showed year-on-year flat growth in the first quarter. Analysts predicted that inflation would gradually grow in the next one or two quarters. What do you expect in terms of the CPI trend for the whole year? Thank you.  

Liu Aihua:

Thank you for your question. Just as you mentioned, the overall price levels in the first quarter were steady and the CPI showed flat year-on-year growth. The CPI shifted from a negative growth of 0.2% in February to positive growth of 0.4% in March. The trend of prices is of great concern among the public. Generally speaking, the CPI is currently flat year on year. The growth rate of 0.4% in March was also a mild one. Analyzed structurally, the main factor that led to the positive growth was the price increases of gasoline and diesel, which belong to non-food categories. In March, the prices of both gasoline and diesel increased by 12% year on year. Driven by the price rise of these two energy products, the growth rate of CPI in March turned positive and reached 0.4%. Looking at other commodity categories, price rises, including that of food, were all considered moderate and some prices even fell. Food prices in March declined by 0.7% year on year. As for the price of pork, which is of great concern, decreased by 18.4% in March.  

Looking to the future, what do we forecast in terms of CPI trends for the whole year? First, from the perspective of specific categories, the public is more concerned about the prices of industrial consumer goods, which grew by 1% in March year on year. As for future trends, since we have complete industrial systems, sufficient manufacturing capacity, and effective and forceful macro-control measures in the field, the factors leading to soaring prices do not exist in terms of supply and demand. Second, regarding food prices, the price of pork has played a big role in propelling food price growth over the past two years. However, it has dropped year on year for several months consecutively, falling by 18.4% year on year. Currently, with the implementation of measures to guarantee supply and stabilize prices, our hog production capacity has recovered remarkably. The live hog stocks had grown by 29.5% year on year by the end of the first quarter, an increase of six quarters in a row, indicating a rapid recovery. From this perspective, the price of pork is showing a continuous downward trend. In addition, grain prices were also relatively stable with grain production enjoying a good start this year and winter wheat growing a little better than previous years. From this perspective, food security can be guaranteed. Therefore, whether it's from pork or grain prices, there is little pressure for CPI to grow. Third, as for service prices, since the service industry has recovered steadily both in supply and demand, the price too will restore gradually with the recovery of supply and demand and may show a moderate growth trend. 

Based on the above-mentioned three aspects, including the prices of industrial consumer goods, food, and service, the CPI through the whole year is expected to remain in a moderate range of growth. Thank you.

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