China announces plans to stabilise growth amid trade war with US

A military band plays the national anthem during the closing session of the National People's Congress in Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Friday

China would not let the world's second-largest economy "slip out of a reasonable range", Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) said yesterday, as he pledged support in the face of "new downward pressure".

Li's comments "reconfirm a consistent pro-growth stance, with clarity on fiscal easing and an earlier-than-expected effective date for tax cuts", Morgan Stanley said in a note, adding that it expects improved growth from the second quarter.

"We hope the negotiations will have results", he said.

In response, China, the world's second largest economy after the U.S., imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on Dollars 110 billion of American goods.

China must "prevent a tide of unemployment", Li said.

China's new foreign investment law, which was first tabled for reading last December, states in broad terms that foreign firms will receive the same treatment as local ones when it comes to government procurement, and that the authorities will not force technology transfer in exchange for access to China's markets. The Foreign Investment Law was passed Friday during the NPC's closing session.

"This law will regulate government behaviour, requiring the government to perform its functions in accordance with the law", he said.

"Moreover, we can deploy quantity-based or price-based policy tools such as reserve requirements and interest rates".

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrives for a press conference after the closing session of the National People's Congress in Beijing's Great Hall of the P
China announces plans to stabilise growth amid trade war with US

Li expressed confidence Beijing can achieve its annual growth target of 6 to 6.5 percent. Up to 100 million children in China are below six years old.

Li said China has policy room reserved for dealing with possible uncertainties this year such as raising the deficit-to-GDP ratio, or using other instruments like required reserve ratios and interest rates.

"It has delivered real benefits to the Chinese people, and it has benefited the world, so why won't we go ahead with it?" he said.

"In actual practice, our goal is to generate the same amount of job opportunities as we did a year ago, which is over 13 million", Li said.

Li said the country will work to ensure employment of college graduates, whose number will reach a new high of 8.34 million this year.

But the new law will be followed up in the coming months with more measures to make it "truly operable", said Mr Li.

"In terms of policy support - we may provide public rental housing units to private actors to provide services such as mobility, daycare, etc. Tax breaks may be provided to these service providers in terms of expenses on water, electricity and natural gas", he said.

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