"Statistics show that the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) crisis did not and will not affect Beijing's basic economic trend of rapid growth," said Beijing Mayor Wang Qishan on Wednesday.
He said in the first half of this year, Beijing suffered about 3.24 billion yuan (some 390 million US dollars) in economic losses due to the impact of the SARS crisis.
"Considering the time lag of the SARS impact in some fields, we are forecasting total annual losses at about 5 billion yuan (some 602 million US dollars). We are also predicting that Beijing's economic growth rate will decline by about 1.5 percentage points this year," said Wang.
Wang said the Beijing economy got off to an excellent start this year, up 12.7 percent in the first quarter. However, the ensuing SARS crisis slowed Beijing's economic development, especially the service industry.
Given the fact that the government successfully contained the SARS epidemic and adopted effective policies to promote economic growth, the impact on Beijing's economy has been limited, Wang said.
Despite the impact of SARS, Beijing's gross domestic production (GDP) between January and June reached 151.61 billion yuan (18.26 billion US dollars) and saw growth of 9.6 percent, the mayor said.
He predicted that Beijing's economic growth will reach about 9-10 percent in 2003.