China has given itself some wiggle room in setting its growth target for 2016, setting itself a range of a range of 6.5 per cent to 7 per cent, down from 7 per cent, a sign that the Chinese economy is slowing but the government is still intent on growth.
In a speech at the opening of the National People’s Congress parliament on Saturday, attended by 3000 delegates, Premier Li Keqiang laid out the policies and goals to stimulate growth this year. Attention was also given to restructuring industries hamstrung by overcapacity.
“Pursuing development is like sailing against the current: You either forge ahead or drift downstream,” Mr Li said in his near two hour speech.
By adopting a range rather than a specific number, China has given itself some flexibility in hitting the politically important growth targets.
Mr Li said 10 million jobs would be generated in urban areas and unemployment would be kept below 4.5 per cent in cities.
The Chinese government was looking to build job growth with a 800 billion yuan ($A165.25 billion) billion) investment for railway construction and 1.65 trillion yuan to build roads.
There was no specific target for foreign trade, reflecting both weaker global demand and the diminishing importance of exports as a growth driver. Beijing last year set a goal for a 6 per cent increase in trade.
Instead, it got disastrous trade figures with both exports and imports falling.
Chen Xingdong, chief China economist at BNP Paribas in Beijing said the absence of a trade target might be because policy makers had missed last year’s number.
“They don’t have confidence to put down a number,” Chen told Bloomberg. “I would agree it has become much harder to predict growth numbers in China.”