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Wednesday, 15 May, 2002, 05:40 GMT 06:40 UK
China still investors' favourite
WTO billboard in China
WTO entry is boosting investment into China
China's economy is enjoying a surge in investment from foreign companies now that it has joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The latest figures from the Chinese government indicate that foreign direct investment (FDI) between January and April was $14.14bn - 29% higher than in the same period last year.

On top of that impressive performance, Chinese industry is pushing ahead too, Wednesday's figures indicated.

The rebound in the health of Asian economies as well as China's own meant that industrial output was 12.1% up in April over the previous year, beating the government's target of 9% growth.

Sustained surge

Both numbers show an acceleration over the performance for the first quarter of 2002, after a sharp slowdown - as in the rest of the world - in the last three months of 2001.

They will help focus attention on the overall state of the Chinese economy, and whether the surge in growth - the economy was 7.6% bigger in the January-March quarter than the same period in 2001 - can be continued.

Huge deficit spending by the government in Beijing is helping to prop up the recovery, and there is no sign that it will slacken.

More demand for Chinese exports as Asia recovers means that April's exports were 17.2% higher than a year earlier, after a low 3.4% expansion in the year to March.

Long term

But there were some signs that the surge may not continue in the long run.

Contracted FDI - an indicator of future trends - was up just 5.1% to $21.281bn for the January-April period, well down on the 11.43% seen in January-March.

The government did not explain why it thought this was happening.

Jeffery Barker, chief economist, HSBC Asia
"Foreign investment represents 20% of overall investment in China, so it's enormously important."
See also:

01 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
China 'abusing' workers, says Amnesty
16 Apr 02 | Business
China warns of spending crunch
12 Apr 02 | Business
China investment boom speeds up
09 Apr 02 | Business
Bright outlook for China
22 Jan 02 | Business
Global investment almost halves
31 Dec 01 | Business
China's economy 'overtakes Italy's'
13 Dec 01 | Business
China: an economic super power?
20 Nov 01 | Business
Global economy shrinks
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