China's First-Quarter Industrial Output Rises 17.7%

By Agence France-Presse China's industrial output rose 17.7% year-on-year in the first quarter, official data showed April 9, indicating the economy was continuing to grow at a fast pace. "In the first quarter, national industrial output continued to maintain a relatively fast pace of growth," the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement. Continuing strong growth in fixed-asset investments, stable growth in domestic consumption and fast growth of exports fuelled production, the NBS said, reporting output of 1.13 trillion yuan (US$136 billion). In March, output accelerated by 19.4%, compared with 16.6% in the first two months of the year. Excluding the distortions caused by the timing of China's annual New Year holidays for the months of January and February, March's monthly year-on-year increase is the highest for at least five years. Last year, output grew by 17.2% in the first quarter. China maintained its status as the world's fastest growing major economy in 2003, expanding by 9.1%. Government planners, worried about over-investment in some industries, were hoping to cool the economy and had announced a relatively modest 7% growth target for 2004. But the first quarter's industrial production suggests the efforts to slow investment may not have been entirely successful. Output of consumer goods soared in the first quarter, with car production up 36.9%, mobile phone output rising 42.1%, digital camera production up 92.8% and laptop output rising 64.7%. Electrical home appliances output was up by between 30.9% and 38.2%. Heavy industry output, which produces the equipment and machinery for newly invested factories and plants, rose a sharp 20.1% in the first quarter, while light industry, which makes consumer goods, grew more moderately by 14.9%. This suggests fixed asset investments was continuing to be the main factor in driving growth, rather than consumer spending. Trade also contributed to the rise in industrial output, due to rising exports by foreign companies and Chinese companies in China. Foreign invested companies, many of which make their products in China for overseas markets, grew at a faster pace than state companies. Overall export deliveries in the first quarter rose 30.5%, contributing 18.1% to overall output growth. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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