China says drafting plans to boost recovery, expansion of consumption

China says drafting plans to boost recovery, expansion of consumption
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk at the main shopping area in Shanghai, China, March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song

BEIJING (Reuters) – China is formulating plans to boost the recovery and expansion of consumption, the state planner’s spokesperson Meng Wei said on Wednesday, signaling officials are worried about weak demand despite a sharp rebound in retail sales. 

China’s economy grew at a faster-than-expected pace in the first quarter, as businesses and consumers came out of crippling pandemic disruptions, although headwinds from a global slowdown point to a bumpy ride ahead.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) pledged to promote a sustained recovery in consumption.

“Currently, we are working on drafting documents on the recovery and expansion of consumption, mainly focusing on key areas such as stabilising big-ticket consumption, enhancing service consumption and expanding rural consumption,” said Meng.

Meng, at a news conference, also mentioned stabilising of automobile consumption, which was a “big part” of supporting consumption, by promoting new energy vehicles to rural areas.

Although official data showed retail sales rose at a faster pace in March compared to the previous month, policymakers remain concerned that the lack of demand is adding uncertainty to the economic growth.

“The international environment is still complex and ever-changing, constraints from insufficient domestic demand are obvious and the foundation for economic recovery is not solid,” said statistics bureau spokesperson Fu Linghui on Tuesday.

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