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China sets GDP 2024 target of ‘around 5%,’ plans to issue ‘ultra-long’ special bonds for major projects

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China’s Premier Li Qiang speaks during the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 16, 2024. 
Denis Balibouse | Reuters

BEIJING — China set a growth target of “around 5%” for 2024, according to the “Government Work Report” released Tuesday.

The targets for GDP and other economic indicators were published as part of the opening of the National People’s Congress annual meeting.

Last year China’s economy grew by 5.2%, matching the official target of around 5%. The overall rebound from the pandemic was slower than many expected, while growth also faced drags from a slump in real estate and exports.

China plans to target an urban unemployment rate of around 5.5%, the creation of 12 million new urban jobs and a consumer price index increase of around 3%. The 2024 targets were the same as those set for 2023.

In 2023, the National Bureau of Statistics said the country averaged a 5.2% unemployment rate in cities and created 12.44 million jobs. However, the consumer price index rose by 0.2% amid lackluster demand.

The work report emphasized the need to “ensure both high-quality development and greater security,” preventing risks and maintaining social stability, among other tasks.

It called for implementing the decisions and plans of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee.

China’s economic policies for the year ahead are typically discussed by top party leaders in December. Local governments hold their own meetings to set regional growth targets, before the National People’s Congress announces the goal for the entire country.

Beijing in recent years has downplayed the number in favor of what it calls “high-quality” growth.

The work report said that “internal drivers of development are being built up,” but added the country should be “well prepared for all risks and challenges.”

China also set a deficit-to-GDP ratio of 3% for the year, down from a rare upward revision to 3.8% late last year from the original 3%.

“We should appropriately enhance the intensity of our proactive fiscal policy and improve its quality and effectiveness,” the work report said.

An IMF report earlier this year said its conversations with Chinese officials indicated they viewed last year’s fiscal policy as proactive.

The on-budget deficit excludes special bonds, policy bank bonds and local government financing vehicle debt, according to Louise Loo, lead economist at Oxford Economics, who last week forecast a 3% to 3.5% deficit.

More than 2,800 delegates attended the opening of the National People’s Congress annual meeting in Beijing on Tuesday.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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