SCIO briefing on China's economic performance in the first quarter of 2020

The State Council Information Office held a press conference on April 17 in Beijing to brief the media on China's economic performance in the first quarter of 2020. April 18, 2020


I also have two questions. First, manufacturers that resume work after the outbreak may be forced to halt production again due to weak demand, rising costs and difficulty in funding and logistics, according to an industry ministry official who was speaking yesterday. Considering that, companies are having to shut down again because of clearly weak export demand and also the dire picture of retail sales and consumption that we saw in the data today. Can growth actually rebound in this quarter? And what will be the driver for that growth? My second question is regarding consumption vouchers, which are being discussed. Their use in places like Taiwan and Japan in the past has had some impact, but the multiplier hasn't really been that high. What is your hope for the multiplier of consumption vouchers? And do you think that will be a strong driver for retail sales and consumption? Thank you.

Mao Shengyong:

Thank you for your question. These two questions are very good. Regarding the first one, in the process of resuming work and production, enterprises may still face difficulties, such as rising logistics costs and reduced orders. Objectively speaking, the current progress of resuming work and production is relatively smooth. The resumption of work and the production of enterprises above the designated size is getting close to 100%, which means essentially all large enterprises have resumed work. At the same time, the resumption of work and production of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is better than expected, generally speaking, as more than 80% have resumed work. Therefore, the progress of enterprises resuming work and production is generally going well.

The logistics cost you mentioned is actually declining compared to that of previous periods, because production and overall livelihood are gradually being restored. And logistics are smoother in general. However, we must also see that, since the current external situation is more complicated and domestic demand is generally weak, enterprises do still face difficulties in insufficient demands and declined orders. In response to such difficulties, we introduced a series of policies in the earlier stages of the outbreak to help enterprises overcome difficulties, including further tax and fees reduction, and to reduce all aspects of costs for enterprises, including reductions and deferrals, as well as the reduction of social insurance premiums, etc., to increase capital support for enterprises, in turn helping them resume production.

However, we must add that because the current market environment is still relatively complex, enterprises are still facing many difficulties. In the next stage, policy will be further strengthened, and the accuracy of that policy will also be improved.

Regarding the growth of total retail sales volume of social consumer goods you mentioned, in fact, looking at the first quarter, we can see that total retail sales of social consumer goods declined, and the decline was relatively significant. However, looking at what happened in March, we see the resumption of work and production, and the resumption of businesses, and the markets are all progressing. The decline of market sales in March has narrowed significantly compared to the declines in January through February. But the whole first quarter showed a downward trend. In the next stage, as the orders of production and people's lives gradually return to normal, some consumption behaviors suppressed in the previous months will be compensated to some extent in the later periods, and consumption will gradually stabilize and rebound. This is the answer to your first question.

Your second question concerns the consumer vouchers you mentioned. Some countries and regions have introduced these policies, and some local governments in our country have also tried such policies. From the perspective of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and other places, we can see that after the introduction of consumer voucher policies, they have played a relatively good role in expanding the consumption of local residents and promoting market vitality. Thank you.

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