China's Industrial Output Up 8.3% in March

Results of a $580 billion stimulus package

In a sign that a huge stimulus package is kicking in, China's industrial output rose 8.3% in March, Premier Wen Jiabao said in an interview published on April 13.

Last month's growth accelerated from the 3.8% rise in January and February as domestic demand continued to improve, Wen said, according to the China Securities Journal.

Fixed asset investment and retail sales, which measure spending on infrastructure and consumption respectively, also increased quickly in the first quarter, he said in an interview while in Thailand for the ASEAN summit at the weekend.

All this showed the economy was performing "better than expected" thanks to Beijing's measures to tackle the international financial crisis, he said.

China in November unveiled an unprecedented four-trillion-yuan (US$580 billion) stimulus package to ward off the worst effects of the global crisis. However, Wen said the nation's export-dependent economy was still facing major difficulties due to a sharp contraction in foreign demand, which has placed increasing pressure on employment.

"The international financial crisis has not yet hit the bottom. It's hard to say that China alone has steered away from the crisis," he said. "We should never overlook (the risks.)"

State media reported on April 13 that China is drawing up a fresh stimulus package aimed this time at boosting domestic consumption as the effects of the export downturn continue to bite.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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