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National Economy Better than Expected: SETC
China's total industrial added value is expected to grow by 12 percent this year, 3 percentage points higher than the original target set last year.

However, the goal set for the increase next year is 10 percent, with investment in technological renovation likely to rise by 10 percent, Minister of the State Economic and Trade Commission (SETC) Li Rongrong said at yesterday's national conference on economy and trade.

The total retail sales of consumer goods is also expected to grow by 10 percent in 2003.

"When setting down the development target for next year, we should take into account some uncertainties ahead of us," said Li, giving as examples the global economic slowdown and tough employment situation.

Li said his commission will make great efforts to help enterprises improve their performance next year.

The government will shift its focus from State-owned enterprises (SOE), especially small and medium-sized ones, to enterprises of all kinds of ownership.

"As for the working practices, we must shift our role of administrative examination and approval to that of conducting macro-control, with a view to creating a sound environment and strengthening supervision," Li said, pledging to make the commission a useful consultant and assistant to governments at all levels.

The three-day annual trade and economic conference which closed yesterday was a follow-up to the national economic conference and that of economic planning held earlier this month.

Li said the performance of China's SOEs in 2002 is far better than in 2001.

He emphasized the fact that the achievement was made against the backdrop of a global economic slowdown in 2001 and this year, when the global trade volume and investment declined.

"Against such a backdrop, it is not easy for the SOEs to have managed to retain their performance level," Li said.

He said China will further open up and make every effort to meet the requirements brought about by its entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Li said that unremitting efforts will be made to create an environment compatible with the WTO rules, under which both the government and enterprises operate according to law.

Next year, China will continue restructuring its import structure and focus its import priorities on advanced technology and equipment, which are essential to the State's development.

China will continue to implement the "go-global" strategy, encourage and help eligible enterprises - whose ownership can take various forms - to set up factories or undertake contracted projects abroad.

(China Daily December 19, 2002)

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