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Chinese economist: snow's economic toll temporary
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Three weeks of snow across most of China have "taken a toll on the economy" but the impact will dissipate over the full year, according to Fan Gang, a renowned Chinese economist.

Fan, director of China's National Institute of Economic Research, said on Saturday that the snow crisis would actually stimulate investment, including upgrading the electricity grid nationwide and improving the coal infrastructure.

"The domestic market also has great potential to spur further economic development. There is no doubt that such a big economy will encounter various difficulties each year, but the Chinese economy is maintaining stable growth momentum," added Fan. He disputed some analysts' views that the snow disaster would be a major drag on growth.

Li Huiyong, a senior macro-economic analyst at Shenyin & Wanguo Securities, forecast that the gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter of 2008 would grow around 10.1 percent, 0.5 point lower than an earlier prediction, due to slower growth in exports, investment and industrial production.

"The snow has affected Chinese economy for the moment, but for the long run, the country will maintain a quick economic growth pace," said Zhu Hongren, deputy director of the Bureau of Economic Operations with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), on Friday.

Li also predicted that the consumer price index (CPI) would surge to 6.8 percent in January, 0.3 point higher than in December, and possibly set a new high in February. The Spring Festival, which begins on Feb. 7, is a traditional time for Chinese shopping sprees.

The CPI rose 4.8 percent in 2007 and hit an 11-year-high of 6.9 percent just in November, well above the government target of 3 percent.

(Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2008)

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