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AFP
April 17, 2021

China GDP grows record 18.3pc in Q1 in virus rebound

World

AFP
April 17, 2021

BEIJING: China’s economy expanded at a record pace in the first quarter as the country continued its rapid recovery from last year’s pandemic-fuelled slump, official data showed Friday.

The 18.3 per cent explosion in gross domestic product growth was the fastest pace since quarterly records began three decades ago, but came off a historic contraction in 2020 during the depths of the pandemic.

It was also slightly short of forecasts in an AFP survey of economists.

While the coronavirus first emerged in central China in late 2019, the country was also the quickest to bounce back after authorities imposed strict control measures and consumers stayed home.

“The national economy made a good start,” National Bureau of Statistics spokeswoman Liu Aihua told reporters on Friday.

The sharp spike was partly due to “incomparable factors such as the low base figure of last year and increase of working days due to staff staying put during the Lunar New Year” holiday, said Liu.

Migrant workers were urged to remain in the areas where they work during the break owing to fears that the annual massive migration might lead to local outbreaks.

On a quarterly basis, GDP rose 0.6 per cent from the last quarter of 2020, slowing slightly, a shift analysts attributed to a wave of local virus outbreaks which triggered travel restrictions and lockdowns.

In a sign that the country’s crucial consumer sector is getting back up to pace, the figures showed retail sales surged in March, bringing first-quarter growth to 33.9 per cent as life largely returned to normal.

Industrial output rose a less-than-estimated 24.5 per cent in the quarter.

The figures come days after officials announced that exports—and particularly imports—had rocketed in March.

Liu, however, warned that the international landscape still contained “high uncertainties”.

While vaccines are being rolled out around the world, the distribution is uneven and a pick-up in infections is forcing governments to reimpose containment measures, holding back recovery.

The urban unemployment rate, a figure analysts have been closely watching, ticked down slightly to 5.3 per cent.

The economic data comes as US climate envoy John Kerry is in Shanghai for talks, and ahead of a Franco-German virtual climate summit Friday in which President Xi Jinping is set to take part.