Province sets relatively modest growth target of ‘over 6 per cent’ and avoids setting specific trade goals

Last year saw the provincial economy increase by 6 per cent despite the impact of Covid-19, annual legislative meeting told

Guangdong, China’s export powerhouse, has set a relatively low growth target of “over 6 per cent” for the year and avoided setting a specific target for trade growth, as provincial authorities remained cautious about this year’s outlook following last year’s Covid-19 outbreak.

China’s richest province, which includes the Pearl River Delta manufacturing hub, still reported a 6 per cent increase in gross domestic product (GDP) last year, slightly lower than the 6.3 per cent recorded in 2019, according to the provincial government report delivered at the annual legislative meeting on Sunday.

Officials also said they hoped for “positive growth” in trade this year without setting a specific target.

The annual meeting was held as China starts the 14th five-year plan, which will run until 2025, and is based on the new

of relying primarily on domestic demand to boost growth.

The 13th five-year plan aimed to develop the country’s manufacturing sector and move China away from being the global factory for cheap, low-tech goods to focus on producing higher-value products.

The outlines of the new five-year plan shift the policy focus towards promoting self-reliance, technological innovation and quality of life.

The central government said last year that it planned to upgrade industries and supply chains, as well as developing the domestic market to drive growth, but would continue to embrace international business and trade.

Despite the economic headwinds from the trade war with the US and the coronavirus pandemic, Guangdong completed its goals in 2020, Ma Xingrui, the provincial governor, said in a live broadcast on Sunday.

“We have embraced difficult challenges and made significant achievements in terms of [coronavirus] outbreak prevention and control as well as economic and social development,” he said.

During the 13th five-year period, Guangdong’s GDP rose from 7.5 trillion yuan in 2015 to over 11 trillion yuan in 2020, Ma said, with the provincial economy remaining China’s biggest for the past 32 years.

He also said the government has pushed for the rapid development of the Greater Bay Area as well as for poverty relief.

In the next five years, the province’s main goals will be to focus on supply-side structural reform, technological innovation and achieving a better balance in regional development, Ma said.

According to local government-affiliated newspaper

, provincial representatives have proposed measures to improve disease prevention and surveillance in rural areas and boost safety education in schools. There will also be a drive to improve elderly care, including home services, cleaning and medical rehabilitation.

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