11/12/2008, 00.00
CHINA
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China's domestic market slows

Together with the drop in the stock market (-70% compared to last year), it is a sign of the difficulties facing the economy of the Chinese giant. Even the "stimulus" package decided by Wen Jiabao ultimately constitutes nothing more than minor assistance.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Retail sales in China are slowing, more evidence that the economy is also in recession in this protagonist of worldwide commerce.

The figures seem hardly changed compared to last year: those provided by the state news agencies say that retail sales grew by only 22%, compared to 23.2% last year. But in October, sales of recreational goods were up by only 2.1%, compared to an 18% annual rise in the first three quarters. Sales of home appliances increased only 0.8%, down from 19.6%. According to analysts, these numbers are only one sign: the government's statistics add in the large-scale purchasing of companies and government offices. "These data are misleading. Real private consumption has already decelerated,” Xing Ziqiang, an economist at China International Capital Corp., tells Reuters.

The Chinese stock market has fallen by 70% compared to last year, and the real estate market, once roaring, is now in crisis. On November 9, the Beijing government approved an economic rescue package, with an injection of almost 600 billion dollars into the market. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao describes it as the biggest contributor so far to easing the financial crisis. But experts are afraid that all that money will serve to finance investments, and not salaries and consumption.

Over the past five years, spending among Chinese families has been less than 40% of the gross domestic product, and last year came to 35.3%, a very low figure for an economy as large as that of China. Families save at least 30% of their income, since they must take care of their own health and education expenses, which are not covered by the state.

Other analysts note that the "stimulus" package approved by Beijing represents almost nothing in the end. In fact, it is supposed to be spent over five years, representing only 1.1% of the gross domestic product: a "stimulus" that most countries consider almost a normal part of the national budget.

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