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» 02/11/2009 14:41
CHINA
China's exports collapse, more than 20 million jobs lost
Exports dropped by 17.5% in January, more than the most downbeat projections. Imports are down by 43%: the markets of the Asia-Pacific region are in crisis. It is feared that growth will not exceed 6%. Now attention is on what the government will do, after focusing so far only on public investment and bank financing.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Chinese exports fell by 17.5% in January, compared to January of 2007, the worst figure since October of 1998, increasing fears of job losses and a slowdown in Chinese growth.

The hardest hit sectors are textiles, toys, electronics, and other manufactured goods, the very products that have always driven Chinese exports and are the main products of the factories on the coast. The government says that 20 million migrants have already lost their jobs, but the real number is believed to be much higher, since many migrants work in the underground economy. The official figure also does not consider the fact that many already receive less pay, or none at all, even though they continue to work.

Experts say that the country may grow by 6.1% in the first quarter of 2009, the slowest rate since 1999.

Imports also fell sharply in January, by 43.1% year on year, as a result of lower demand for foreign components and raw materials for production. But the drop is also a symptom of the contraction in consumption because of growing economic difficulties. Because of the reduced imports, China's trade balance increased by 39.11 billion dollars in January. The trade gap with the United States grew in China's favor by 1.9%, or 12.3 billion dollars.

Experts forecast a further slowdown in exports, and therefore in production as well, since it does not seem likely that demand from the United States and Europe will pick up soon. But this could have a dampening effect on the economy of the entire region, since nearby countries sell raw materials and partly finished products to China. In December, exports from Taiwan dropped by 42%, Japan's by 35%, and South Korea's by 17%: these are the three largest providers of semi-finished products that are assembled in Chinese factories.

China's domestic demand seems to be slowing in spite of increasing deflation, with producer prices falling by 3.3% in January, and consumer prices increasing by only 1%, the lowest rate in 30 months, with a rise of 4.2% in food prices (19.6% for vegetables), but steep drops for clothing, transportation, and real estate. Experts maintain that the government will intervene to contain deflation, in order to avoid eroding the already slim profit margins of producing companies, and to stimulate domestic consumption. There is eager anticipation for initiatives from Beijing, which so far has limited itself to announcing large-scale public investment, and to providing incentives for bank financing.


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See also
12/11/2008 CHINA
Chinese leaders admit serious economic crisis for first time
07/17/2008 CHINA
Chinese inflation remains high, economic growth slows
12/06/2008 CHINA
Urban unemployment over 12%: high risk of social protests
01/28/2009 SINGAPORE
To combat economic crisis, government suggests less meat, shorter showers
02/19/2009 ASIA
ILO forecasts loss of between 7 and 22 million Asian jobs in 2009

Editor's choices
CHINA - EUROPEAN UNION
Xi Jinping returns home full of deals and silence
by Bernardo CervelleraThe Chinese president signed agreements worth tens of billions of Euros in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. He also stayed clear of any press conference. At the College of Europe in Bruges, he presented his dream of a new trillion-dollar Silk Road. Yet, he also made it clear that at home, the monopoly of power stays with the Party, squashing any dream for political reform in China. On the Internet, netizens disagree with him.
VATICAN
Pope announces a 'festival of forgiveness' for 28-29 March in St Peter's Basilica and churches around the worldPope Francis made the announcement after today's Angelus. "We must celebrate the forgiveness the Lord gives us as did the father in the parable of the prodigal son, who, when the latter returned, organised a party, putting out of his mind all the things the son had done." When Jesus met the woman of Samaria, he "tore through the biased mind-set against women." The pontiff also called on the pilgrims to say, "Every encounter with Jesus changes one's life; every encounter with Jesus fills us with joy." He also sent his greetings to a Japanese school.
CHINA-VATICAN
Msgr. Fan Zhongliang's funeral attended by 5,000 priests and faithful from the official and underground Churches
by Jian MeiMsgr. Ma Daqin, who is under house arrest, was absent. In the liturgy the priests referred to him as "our Bishop Ma Daqin". During the celebration and prayers, Msgr Fan was also referred to as a "bishop", although the government prohibits the use of this term for a non recognized prelate. During the service, red vestments were used, "a sign of martyrdom". Hope for the unity of the Church in China is growing.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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