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China outlines supply-side structural reform plan

Updated: Mar 7,2016 2:04 PM     Xinhua

China’s government work report, presented on March 5, emphasized strengthening supply-side structural reform through cutting low-end supply while increasing high-end supply and public products and services.

“Appearing in the government work report shows the government’s determination,” said Liu Zhibiao, an economics professor at Nanjing University, who is in Beijing to attend the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

China’s three decades of rapid growth were fueled by capital investment, exports and consumption -- usually thought of as being on the demand side. However, supply-side reform aims to increase the supply of goods and services by stimulating business through tax cuts, entrepreneurship and innovation.

While stimulating the demand side tends to be short-lived, supply-side reform is expected to generate sustainable, quality growth.

Wang Yiming, deputy director of the development research center of the State Council, believes China’s supply-side reform is an innovation of socialism with Chinese characteristics and is different from Western supply-side economic theories, which were generated when Western economies were bogged down by high inflation and low growth.

He said China’s supply-side reform aims to increase innovative abilities and the supply of public products while strengthening policy coordination.

From the supply side, China’s relaxed family planning policy, which allows each family to have two children, is expected to add high-quality labor to the market in the future.

Meanwhile, provinces are busy searching for new growth engines.

Northeast China’s Jilin province held a work meeting on the service sector last month, aimed at cultivating the sector as a future growth point.

Sun Zhiming, director of the institute of economics of Jilin Academy of Social Sciences, believes the service sector in the northeastern region has development advantages, such as the region’s winter tourism industry. Although the short-term investment is big, profits can be generated for the long run. “Besides tourism, the aviation industry, high-end equipment manufacturing and biochemical engineering could all be new growth engines for the northeast,” Sun said.

East China’s Jiangsu province is also focusing on intelligent manufacturing with the aim of becoming an advanced manufacturing base with global competitiveness.

Deputies to the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) suggested that, in addition to adding new engines, supply-side reform needs to do some subtraction. Cutting overcapacity, de-stocking, de-leveraging and reducing costs were all listed as major tasks of reform.

According to a five-year supply-side reform plan for Guangdong released on March 1, all “zombie” companies in the province will be cleared out in three years. Shanxi province plans to cut its coal production by 258 million tonnes by 2020, while Hebei province aims to contain its steel and cement capacities to 200 million tonnes each.

The burden on companies will also be alleviated. NPC deputy Zong Qinghou, chairman of the beverage company Hangzhou Wahaha Group, suggested that more taxes and costs of enterprises should be cut to help the real economy.

According to the government work report, the government will pursue a more proactive fiscal policy, with an increased deficit to cut taxes and promote effective investments.

Analysts believe there will be further measures carried out nationwide following the annual sessions of the NPC and the CPPCC National Committee. With different focuses, together they will help combat an ongoing economic slow-down in the country.