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Chongqing's economic growth rebounds

By Xu Wei  (China Daily)

14:30, July 16, 2012

Chongqing's economic growth has rebounded after a slowdown earlier this year and is expected to continue leading the nation, a senior official from the southwestern municipality said.

Chongqing has led the nation in GDP growth, industrial value-added output, foreign investment and expenditure in the first half of this year, said Huang Qifan, mayor of Chongqing, at a conference in the city on Thursday.

"We were able to reverse the difficult situations earlier this year and maintained a good momentum of economic growth," Huang said.

Huang said the city's economy experienced a slowdown in February and March, but rebounded in mid-March, thanks to industrial growth.

Chongqing's GDP growth is expected to continue to lead the nation in the first half of this year, Huang said, although a concrete figure is yet to be released.

The municipality's GDP growth was 14.4 percent in the first quarter, the third-strongest figure among all provinces and municipalities.

The National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday that the country's economy grew 7.8 percent in the first half.

According to Huang, the municipality's industrial value-added output increased 16.5 percent in the first half.

It received a total of $3.7 billion of foreign investment in the first half, up 27 percent year-on-year.

The total volume of exports and imports reached $25 billion in the first half of the year, up 170 percent year-on-year, the largest figure among all of the country's provinces and municipalities.

Growth was not easily achieved, Huang said, with manufacturing, foreign trade and investment nationwide slowing down, the eurozone still struggling with the debt crisis, and the US economy still on the way to recovery.

It was believed that the discipline violations by its former Party chief were also a factor in the city's economic slowdown.

The Communist Party of China Central Committee suspended Chongqing's former Party chief Bo Xilai's membership in the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau and the CPC Central Committee in April. He is suspected of being involved in serious discipline violations.

Chinese police are also investigating Bo's wife, Bo-Gu Kailai, and her orderly at home. The two are suspects in the murder of British citizen Neil Heywood in Chongqing in November, and have been handed over to the relevant judicial departments.

Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang was appointed to replace Bo as the Party chief of Chongqing on March 15.

Many foreign investors adopted a wait-and-see attitude, and the situation was only alleviated after Hewlett-Packard Co said in April that it would build its printer production base in Chongqing.

Meanwhile, Zhang said that the municipality will continue with its opening-up policy, which, according to Huang, has given investors a boost in confidence.

Also, the municipality's plans for development are an important reason that accounts for the investors' decision to invest.

"We learned that the local authorities are going to carry out a plan to boost the local automobile industry and we realized this would be a great opportunity for us," said Stephen Shang, president and CEO of Honeywell International Inc (China), in an e-mail interview.

The global manufacturer has just built its largest friction material production base in the Liangjiang new area of the municipality and production has started in May.

"The authorities were very sincere in showing their support and we were also attracted by the investment environment," Shang said.

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