19th Apr. 2023: First quarter GDP growth, macroeconomic and foreign trade data in March

This episode covers China’s first quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, macroeconomics indexes and foreign trade data in March. From the Chamber side, join the Nanjing Position Paper 2023/2024 launch on 27th April to learn more about the Chamber’s recommendations on improving Jiangsu’s business environment.


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Read more:

China’s Q1 GDP and March macroeconomic data (in Chinese)


March foreign trade data


Nanjing Position Paper 2023/2024 Launch



RUI: Hello and welcome to China Shortcuts,

MARIANN: the European Chamber’s weekly catchup on China’s business landscape.


RUI: China’s GDP expanded 4.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2023 as the country has been pushing for a speedy recovery after the impact of pandemic control measures left the economy in shambles in 2022.

MARIANN: First quarter GDP growth exceeded market expectations and showed a strong momentum from the previous quarter, when China’s GDP expanded only 2.9 per cent. In March, the Chinese Government set the country’s GDP growth target at around 5 per cent for 2023. While the GDP growth target set seems achievable, the European Chamber believes that the focus should be on promoting high-quality, sustainable growth, rather than growth at all costs. To this end, policy focus should be given to high-technology industries, and especially to promoting technological innovation. China also has a host of domestic challenges to address, including a fading demographic dividend and spiralling debt.


RUI: The National Bureau of Statistics also released a host of macroeconomic indexes, showing that consumption propelled growth in March.

MARIANN: Retail sales expanded at the fastest pace in almost two years, jumping 10.6 per cent in March from a year ago. One of the largest surges were seen in catering sales, which was up more than 26 per cent year-on-year. The real estate sector showed mixed signs in March, with home sales by areas still in decline, but sales by value up in March, suggesting a recovery in prices. At the same time, the warming seen in consumption did not translate into a strong recovery in investment sentiment in the private sector, with fixed asset investment by privately-owned enterprises still subdued and lagging far behind the rate of growth in state sector investment. While in March, surveyed urban unemployment decreased overall, youth unemployment surged to 19.6 per cent. 


RUI: China’s official March foreign trade data showed a strong rebound in exports, and a softening of the decrease in imports.

MARIANN: The total value of exports jumped 14.8 per cent in March from a year ago in dollar terms, ending a period of contraction that lasted five months. Imports, however, continued to decrease in March, although at the lowest rate since last October. The European Union was again China’s second largest trade partner in March, as well as in the first quarter of 2023. However, a trade imbalance continues to exist between the two. China’s exports to the EU totaled 126 billion dollars during the first three months of 2023, while imports to China from the EU reached 68 billion dollars.


RUI: On 27th April, the European Chamber is launching the Nanjing Position Paper 2023/2024, its third local paper aimed at improving market conditions for all businesses operating in the region.

MARIANN: Following China’s zero-COVID policy ending, Jiangsu is at a crossroads. The province is well placed to rebuild its viability as an international investment destination, but it must act if it is to do so.

RUI: Join our event to learn more about the European Chamber’s recommendations on how to improve Jiangsu’s business environment by making it more appealing to foreign nationals, optimising green energy adoption and developing an efficient environmental, health and safety inspection system.

MARIANN: Thanks for listening. Tune in again next week.

RUI: In the meantime, find useful links in the episode notes.

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