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China's industrial output growth falls to 17-year low as trade war escalates

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Beijing | August 14, 2019 1:11:27 PM IST
China's industrial production in July grew at its lowest rate since February 2002 with the retail sector also taking a further hit amid a sharpening slowdown sparked by the US-China trade war.

Industrial production -- a measure of the output of the industrial sectors in China's economy, including manufacturing, mining and utilities -- grew by 4.8 per cent in July from a year earlier. This was down from 6.3 per cent in June, which had improved from May's 5 per cent growth rate.

Within the industrial production figures, manufacturing grew by 4.5 per cent in July -- down from 6.2 per cent in June -- and mining by 6.6 per cent -- down from 7.3 per cent in June.

Retail sales rose 7.6 per cent in July from a year earlier compared with 9.8 per cent in June, said South China Morning Post quoting data from the National Bureau of Statistics released on Wednesday.

"A general malaise has persisted over the last 13 months, during which the Chinese economy has been beset by US tariffs. Over the same period, the trajectory of most of China's important economic indicators has been of declining growth," said the daily.

Consumption has been a big concern for policymakers in Beijing. In all but one month in 2019, China's imports have declined in an unprecedented trend for a country used to enjoying huge trade growth. This indicates that demand is weak in China, among both individual consumers as well as producers importing parts and components.

While the government has taken a number of steps to encourage consumer spending -- such as discounts and subsidies for purchases of household goods and loosening of monetary policy to encourage bank lending -- they have not had the intended effect so far.

Analysts expect consumer spending to slow further for the rest of the year due to the trade war tensions, said the daily newspaper.

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday moved forward with plans to place a new 10 per cent tariff on Chinese goods. While initially mooted as a blanket tariff on 300 billion dollars of goods starting September 1, its implementation will now be staggered with 130 billion dollars of the tariffs coming in September.

The remaining 155 billion dollars, which includes consumer items such as laptops, smartphones, video game consoles and toys, will now have a tariff reprieve until December 15.

The new tariff comes on top of 25 per cent levies on another 250 billion dollars of Chinese goods which have placed huge pressure on the world's second largest economy's manufacturing base. (ANI)

 
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