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Beijing economy expected to grow

By Li Jiabao (China Daily)

08:11, January 21, 2013

An improving economic environment both at home and abroad will keep Beijing's gross regional product (similar to GDP) "moderately" increasing in 2013 after registering a 13-year low the previous year.

Meanwhile, the municipal government will make more of an effort to rebalance the economy and improve its growth model while continuing curbs on real estate and limiting the increase of the Consumer Price Index, a main gauge of inflation, to around 4 percent.

The capital's GRP registered 1.78 trillion yuan ($286 billion) in 2012, about 3.43 percent of China's GDP, with an increase of 7.7 percent compared from a year earlier, the slowest expansion in 13 years, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics said.

"A slow economic growth in big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou is normal amid land-cost increases, the departure of manufacturing and underdevelopment of their services sectors," said Ding Ningning, a researcher at the State Council's Development Research Center.

He called for more attention to education, research and development to attain sustainable economic growth.

Despite the slowest growth in the past decade, Beijing's economic quality "was relatively high and in the lead in China after the government focused on rebalancing the economy and improving its growth model in recent years," Xia Qinfang, deputy head of Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics, told a news briefing on Sunday.

Beijing topped the list of GRP quality among 31 provincial-level regions, a report by the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in July.

The services sector saw output in 2012 increase 7.8 percent year-on-year to 1.36 trillion yuan, about 76 percent of the city's total GRP, while output of industries increased 7.5 percent year-on-year to 406 billion yuan, said Xing Zhihong, deputy head of the Survey Office of the National Bureau of Statistics in Beijing.

"Investment structure was optimized in 2012 while consumption in emerging sectors, such as culture, recreation and tourism, significantly expanded. In addition, our R&D expenditure accounted for 5.8 percent of GRP, the highest in China," Xia said.

Beijing's fixed assets investment went up 9.3 percent year-on-year in 2012 to 646 billion yuan. The services sector received an investment of 560 billion yuan, up 9.7 percent year-on-year. Investments in culture, sports and recreation surged 77 percent year-on-year, while investments in scientific research and technical services rose 44.6 percent, according to the bureau.

"Beijing's GRP growth has entered a new, quality-oriented era, and 2013 will see a stable growth as China's economic growth bottomed out of a seven-quarter slowdown in the fourth quarter and the world economy keeps improving," Xia said.

Beijing's business climate index reversed a five-quarter drop and reached 128.1 in the fourth quarter, while entrepreneurs' confidence index reached 122.9 after ending a two-quarter decline, suggesting robust prospects for economic growth in 2013, Xing added.

The consumer price index will be controlled around 4 percent in 2013 after a rise of 3.3 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, curbs on real estate "will be continued, and a big fluctuation of property prices is not likely", Xing said.

Commercial housing sales surged 35 percent year-on-year in 2012, in contrast to the successive drops in the previous two years. And Xing attributed the heating to the monetary easing policies in the second half of 2012, while saying that first-time homebuyers accounted for 90 percent of the total last year.

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