China's economy witnessed a gradual recovery in the first half (H1) of this year, although the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic had posed severe tests in the first quarter. Its gross domestic product (GDP) stood at around 45.6 trillion yuan ($6.5 trillion), down 1.6 percent year on year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said at a press conference on July 16.
"The resumption of work and production has accelerated and major economic indicators have continued to improve. In the second quarter, China’s economy already returned to growth," NBS spokesperson Liu Aihua said, adding that some economic indicators are yet to improve and global pandemic spread is also posing challenges to the domestic economic recovery.
A breakdown of the H1 data showed that the output of the primary industry and the secondary industry saw an increase of 3.8 percent and a decline of 1.3 percent year on year, respectively. The decline of the output of the service sector which accounted for nearly 60 percent of the total GDP narrowed by 3.6 percentage points compared with the first quarter.
According to the NBS, China's job market remained stable performances in H1, with the new urban jobs totaling 5.64 million, accounting for 62.7 percent of the annual target. The surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas standing at 5.7 percent in June, down 0.2 percentage points from the previous month.
As China's economic recovery accelerates in eased virus containment measures, it saw better-than-expected foreign trade performances in H1. Foreign trade of goods went down 3.2 percent year on year in the first half of this year to 14.24 trillion yuan ($2 trillion), narrowing by 1.7 percentage points compared with the decrease for the first five months, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said at a press conference on July 14.
China's effective COVID-19 control and early business resumption have been solid support for the rebound in imports, GAC spokesman Li Kuiwen said.
GAC data showed that China's trade with the European Union and the United States decreased 1.8 percent and 6.6 percent in January-June, respectively. However, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) became China's largest trading partner with trade up 5.6 percent year on year to 2.09 trillion yuan ($298 billion), accounting for 14.7 percent of China's total foreign trade. China's trade with countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative accounted for 29.5 percent of the total trade in the first six months, up 0.7 percentage points year on year.
While China's exports and imports may continue to face a grim and complicated situation in the second half of this year, its foreign trade is still resilient and a slew of pro-trade policy measures will be further launched to ensure stable and high-quality foreign trade, Li said.
"The economic recovery in H1 has laid solid foundation for a rebound in the second half. With complete industrial systems, improved infrastructure and a large market, China will be able to cope with the impact of the epidemic effectively in the following months," Liu said.
Copyedited by Madhusudan Chaubey
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