Industrial production down by 13.5% in January and February. Retail sales by 20.5%. Fixed investments fall: -24.5%. It is the first trade deficit since March 2018 (-6 billion euros). The drop in foreign demand limits recovery. Asian stock markets show little faith in the stimuli promised in the West. Yesterday only 16 cases of infection.
Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The National Statistics Office published data today revealin, China's economy has declined more than expected in the first two months of the year due to the coronavirus.
Industrial production fell by 13.5% on the back of the halt to economic activity mandated by the government to counter the spread of the virus. The estimates were for a 3% drop.
Retail sales decreased by 20.5%: the forecast was for a 4% contraction. The same with manufacturing, it is the first time that sales of consumer goods have declined since statistics of this type have been compiled in the country.
Fixed investments also fell: -24.5% compared to an expected decrease of 2%. However, the most disturbing figure for the Chinese economy regards trade. Exports saw a freefall of 15.9%; imports registered a -2.4%. Put into real terms: for the first time since March 2018, Beijing has a negative balance of payments, with a deficit of around 43 billion yuan (almost 6 billion euros).
Local businesses are slowly returning to work. The government announced last week that over 95% of the larger ones, and 60% of the medium-to-small sized businesses, have reopened. But the spread of the virus to other parts of the world risks reducing foreign demand, which has always been the driving force of Chinese economic growth.
Observers see today's decline in Asian stock markets today, despite the stimulus measures promised by the central banks of the main world economies, a sign of distrust towards the ability of the US, Europe and Japan to boost production and consumption.
Meanwhile, official statistics say that there were only 16 cases of coronavirus infections in the country yesterday, with only four originating in Hubei, the epicenter of the epidemic. The other 12 cases are of people returning to China from countries affected by Covid-19: Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Thailand, Great Britain, Egypt.