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China fixed-asset investment approvals almost doubled in 2022 to $218 bln

BEIJING, Jan 18 (Reuters) – China’s state planner approved 1.48 trillion yuan ($218.35 billion) worth of fixed asset investment projects in 2022, nearly double the value from the previous year, as authorities geared up to support the COVID-hit economy.

A total of 109 projects were approved last year and they were predominantly in the transportation, energy, water conservation and information technology industries, a spokesperson for the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) told reporters in Beijing today.

China has been stepping up spending on infrastructure projects to prop up economic growth, which slumped to one of its worst levels in nearly a century over 2022, with gross domestic product (GDP) expanding by just 3.0% from a year earlier, badly missing the official target of “around 5.5%” set at the beginning of last year.

Looking to 2023, the NDRC spokesperson remarked that the country’s economic recovery remains complicated given that China must grapple with shrinking demand, supply chains shocks and turbulence in the global economy.

China’s exports shrank sharply in December as global demand cooled, contracting 9.9%, while imports fell by a more modest 7.5%.

Economists anticipate that domestic demand will slowly recover in the coming months, “but for the first quarter, we will still see a bumpy transitional period where we actually might see contraction instead of growth,” Jing Liu, chief economist for Greater China at HSBC, told Reuters in a call following the release of the 2022 data on Tuesday.

HSBC is forecasting GDP growth of 5.8% this year, she added.

The NDRC told reporters that it would take steps to grow the scale and scope of investment in the country over the coming months, particularly from foreign investors, which should be guided into the advanced manufacturing and services sectors, as well as pursuing developments in new technologies, energy conservation, and environmental protection.

Officials also addressed the country’s grain supply, commenting that the NDRC could ensure the safe supply of grain despite the challenges the market is facing.

Reporting by Joe Cash and Shen Yan; Editing by Kim Coghill

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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