22nd Mar. 2023: required reserve ratio; China-US trade decoupling, FDI in China
This episode covers China lowering its required reserve ratio; a report on China-US trade decoupling; and foreign direct investment in China in January and February.
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PBOC reserve requirement ratio (in Chinese)
Overview of RRR cuts since 2018 (in Chinese)
PIIE report on US-China trade decoupling
Official January-February FDI data (in Chinese)
Chamber event: Human Capital Conference¾ESG In Human Capital Strategy Development
RUI: Hello and welcome to China Shortcuts,
MARIANN: the European Chamber’s weekly catchup on China’s business landscape.
RUI: On 17th March, China’s central bank announced that it would lower the amount that banks are required to keep in reserve for deposits in order to maintain sufficient liquidity in the interbank system.
MARIANN: The decision to cut the reserve requirement ratio for banks by 25 basis points will take effect on 27th March, and is expected to inject about 500 billion yuan worth of liquidity into the market. This in turn will provide lenders with more cash to pay out loans, and open up the possibility for reducing lending rates. According to data from the central bank, since 2018, the reserve requirement ratio has been lowered 14 times already, with the average ratio decreasing from 14.9 per cent to 7.8 per cent by the end of last year.
RUI: According to a new report published on 16th March by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, China has continued to decouple from US exports amid tense bilateral relations.
MARIANN: The Washington-based research organisation highlighted that as both sides fear that the other would suddenly weaponise trade flows in the name of security, to mitigate risks, they are attempting to diversify. The report points at 2022 data showing that US exports are falling farther and farther behind foreign peers also selling into the Chinese market. This trend is seen in all key areas: US manufacturing exports have for the most part disappeared, semiconductor sales dwindled and may not return due to new US export control policy, while services exports that were tarnished by the pandemic have not made a comeback. The report stressed that worrying signs have emerged even in the field of agriculture, where US sales to China hit record highs in 2022. According to the Peterson Institute, the uptick in US farm sales to China was largely due to higher prices and concerns over global food security in light of the war in Ukraine. As for the other side, the report says that US imports from China tell a similar story, and concludes that the two economies are becoming less directly interdependent through trade.
RUI: According to a note published by the Ministry of Commerce on 17th March, actual use of foreign direct investment increased 6.1 per cent in yuan terms in the first two months of 2023, compared to the same period a year ago.
MARIANN: The ministry highlighted that FDI in high-tech manufacturing picked up sharply, expanding almost 69 per cent year-on-year, while the service industry also saw a substantial increase in FDI inflow. The overall data, however, shows some slowing from January, when actual use of FDI grew 14.5 per cent year-on-year. Furthermore, the ministry’s note points out that investment from Belt and Road countries and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations increased more than 10 per cent in January-February. However, without a clear breakdown of the data, it is difficult to gauge foreign investors’ sentiment, especially since the official FDI data also includes investments from Hong Kong or tax havens like the Cayman Islands, even if the money comes from subsidiaries of Chinese companies – a phenomenon known as round-tripping investment.
RUI: Environmental, social and corporate governance or ESG is fast becoming the global standard for investors seeking responsible investment opportunities. This framework requires companies to provide data on several aspects of their operations, such as carbon emissions, employee health and safety, diversity and business ethics. More and more companies are embedding ESG in their corporate strategy to pursue sustainable development. At the same time, younger generations entering the workforce are highly motivated by an employer’s ability to demonstrate the purpose and value of its social impact.
MARIANN: It is therefore important for companies to understand how to integrate ESG into their corporate human resources strategy, and how to develop talent with ESG skills.
RUI: Join this year’s Human Capital Conference on 27th March to hear CEOs and HR leaders from top-tier companies discuss the latest trends and best practices in ESG.
MARIANN: Thanks for listening. Tune in again next week.
RUI: In the meantime, find useful links in the episode notes.