Coronavirus spread, tariff rollbacks

The next few days will be crucial in determining whether efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus within China have worked and whether workplaces across the country will be allowed to reopen. But if travel restrictions remain in place, as seems likely, even firms that have been given permission to reopen will continue to face disruption.
Julian Evans-Pritchard Senior China Economist
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China Data Response

China Official PMIs (Nov.)

The official PMIs suggest that industrial activity rebounded this month thanks to easing disruptions from power shortages while a renewed virus flare-up held back the recovery in services. And while we know little about its transmissibility and severity, the new Omicron variant could hold back a further economic recovery. On a more positive note, the surveys point to easing price pressures.

30 November 2021

China Chart Book

Omicron tests China’s zero-COVID strategy

The global spread of a more transmissible COVID variant is a particular challenge for a country trying to remain COVID-free. But after nearly two years of success suppressing infections domestically, the bar to changing course before better medical treatments or vaccines are available is high. A study published last week by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that if China were to adopt the pandemic control measures recently in place in several Western countries, it would soon be facing several hundred thousand new cases per day and 10-20,000 severe cases. These estimates were deliberately conservative, made on the assumption that natural and vaccine-derived immunity is as high in China as in the comparator countries. The actual health cost, the authors argue, would almost certainly be higher. Given these concerns, if Omicron proves harder to contain than Delta, we would expect officials to tighten containment measures in response. Economically, that would lead to further intermittent disruption to domestic activity, particularly services, and to global supply chains.

29 November 2021

China Economics Weekly

Capacity constraints put a ceiling on export outlook

In the long-run, the global spread of highly-transmissible coronavirus strains may make China’s zero-COVID stance untenable but the immediate response to concerns about B.1.1.529  is more likely to be a doubling down on the strategy, with rolling local lockdowns in response to any local cases and continued tight border controls. China’s exporters could benefit from another wave of lockdown-induced demand elsewhere in the world. But capacity limits, particularly at ports, potentially exacerbated by further port shutdowns, may limit their ability to meet orders.

26 November 2021

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China Data Response

China Caixin Manufacturing PMI (May)

Unlike the official PMI survey released yesterday, the Caixin manufacturing index published today rose last month. The key takeaway is that while output edged up on the back of still strong demand, supply shortages remain a headwind, leading to a rundown in inventories and higher prices.

1 June 2021

China Chart Book

The three-child policy: too little, too late

State media announced today that China’s family planning policy will be relaxed to allow all families to have three children, up from the current limit of two. This comes shortly after China’s once-a-decade census showed that its population is aging even faster than previously expected. The policy shift will do little to alter the downward trend in births, however. It is largely economic and social trends, rather than family planning policy, that are behind the decline in China’s fertility rate in recent decades, much of which predates the one-child policy. With small family sizes now well ingrained into the fabric of Chinese society, there is little that policymakers can do to turn back the clock. The relaxation and eventual abolishment of the one-child policy around the middle of the last decade only nudged up the fertility rate marginally, with the impact on aggregate births quickly overwhelmed by a sharp decline in the number of women of childbearing age. Raising the cap from two children to three will move the needle even less.

31 May 2021

China Data Response

China Official PMIs (May)

The latest surveys suggest that stronger construction activity nudged up overall growth this month and that supply shortages are pushing up prices even as final demand for manufactured goods appears to be levelling off.

31 May 2021
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