Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.
Michele Tantusi Getty images
PARIS – China has rarely decided not to set a target for economic growth by 2020 due to uncertainty about the effects of the coronavirus.
“I want to point out that this year we have not set a specific goal for economic growth,”
“This is because our country will face some factors that are difficult to predict in its development due to the great uncertainty regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and the global economic and trade environment,” Lee said.
The remarks are part of China’s annual parliamentary session, which was delayed by about two months this year due to a coronavirus outbreak that began in China last year and has since spread worldwide.
As a result, some analysts had expected before the report that Lee could share the GDP target for a period other than 2020. Last year, GDP grew by 6.1%, only reaching the official target range of 6% to 6.5 %.
China’s economy shrank 6.8 percent in the first quarter, while unemployment remained close to all-time highs. Although data show some recovery in April, officials have publicly expressed concerns about the slowdown in coronavirus growth abroad.
Economists have lowered their forecasts for official GDP growth, a figure many economists often doubt. At the end of March, the Beijing-based China International Capital Corporation (CICC) significantly reduced its forecast for real GDP growth to 2.6%, down from 6.1% before.
Employment remains a top priority
While China has not set a GDP target for the year, the authorities are still setting some specific figures for positions such as employment and inflation.
Lee stressed that providing jobs for people will remain a priority, as it was last year. Beijing will target a 6% unemployment rate as measured by the official urban survey, Li said.
This is from last year’s target of 5.5%. The number of new jobs promised “over 9 million” was less than the 11 million targeted last year.
The target of the consumer price index was set at around 3.5%.
Covid-19 appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and has killed more than 4,600 people in the country. Since then, the epidemic has become a global pandemic, infecting more than 5 million people and killing more than 330,000 people worldwide.
The world’s second-largest economy is the first to impose – and leave the government – blocking business and social events. The outbreak stopped in the country by early March and by the end of April, most businesses that survived the blockade resumed operations, although not necessarily at the same level of operations before the pandemic.
During the opening ceremony of the National People’s Congress, leaders are expected to set priorities for the government, the country’s defense budget and plans to increase the fiscal deficit and issue more debt to local governments.