China’s economic growth edged up to a still-weak 4.8 per cent over a year ago in the first three months of 2022 as spreading coronavirus outbreaks prompted the shutdown of major industrial cities.
Growth crept up from the previous quarter’s 4 per cent following a slump triggered by tighter government controls on use of debt by China‘s vast real estate industry, official data showed Monday. Compared with the previous quarter, as other major economies are measured, growth declined to 1.3 per cent from 1.4 per cent.
First quarter growth was well below the ruling Communist Party’s official target of 5.5 per cent for the year. Forecasters have said that will be hard to meet without more government stimulus spending.
Retail spending, factory output and investment in factories, real estate and other fixed assets rose.
The national economic recovery was sustained and the operation of the economy was generally stable, said a government statement.
Authorities have suspended access to Shanghai and some other industrial cities to contain virus outbreaks under the ruling party’s zero-COVID strategy to isolate every infected person. Global automakers and other manufacturers have stopped or reduced production due to supply disruptions.
The ruling party already was promising tax refunds to businesses to reverse the slump that began in mid-2021. Last week, Premier Li Keqiang, the No. 2 leader, called for quicker action to get help to struggling entrepreneurs.
Retail sales rose by a modest 3.3 per cent over a year earlier after consumer demand was hurt by a government appeal for the public to avoid travelling during February’s Lunar New Year holiday, normally a time for gift-giving and banquets.
Factory output rose 6.5 per cent over a year earlier. Investment in factories, real estate and other fixed assets increased 9.3 per cent, possibly reflecting official orders to banks to lend more easily.