Two Sessions 2019: Premier Li outlines economic growth targets

World Today

China’s major annual political event is underway. The second session of the 13th National People’s Congress began in Beijing.

Premier Li Keqiang listed measures to stabilize the economy and laid out steps to do so.

CGTN’s Hou Na reports from the Great Hall of the People.

Setting the tone for the country’s development, Premier Li Keqiang set the GDP growth target for this year at between 6 and 6.5 percent. He also looked back at what’s been achieved: GDP grew by 6.6 percent last year, exceeding 90 trillion yuan.

Li admits the country faces mounting uncertainties in the international economic landscape, calling for more innovation and vowing to deepen reform in various sectors.

“We deepened reforms of state capital and state-owned enterprises and made new gains in upgrading and restructuring SOE’s, and in improving their quality and performance,” Li said. “In addressing difficulties and issues encountered by the private sector, we used every feasible means to help them address problems.”

In addition to the overall macroeconomy, the report also reiterates the funding available to small and medium-sized businesses.

“I hope the government can reduce taxes and fees on small and medium-sized enterprises so that they can make profits,” NPC Deputy Ma Xinqiang said.

In laying out future tasks, Premier Li vowed larger-scale tax cuts. The government will deepen value-added tax reform, reducing the current rate of 16 percent in manufacturing and other industries to 13 percent, and lower the rate in the transportation, construction, and other industries from 10 to 9 percent.

He also promised to further open up and foster international economic cooperation and competition.

“We will open more sectors and improve the scope of opening up, continue to promote opening up based on flows of goods and factors of production, and give greater emphasis to opening up based on rules and related institutions,” Li said.

Policymakers will seek the creation of 11 million jobs this year, and keep the surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas at around 5.5 percent.

The spill-over effect of interest rate hikes in the United States, and uncertainties arising from trade disputes among major powers, risk driving down global economic and trade growth this year. Li admits that China as a result will face challenges, making the targets set today all the more important.

Dali Yang discusses China’s economic goals for 2019

Dali Yang is a professor of political science at The University of Chicago. CGTN’s Elaine Reyes asked him if China’s 2019 growth target is realistic.