China Premier Urges Policy Fine-Tuning as Economic Woes Mount
- Covid spread, power shortages fuel concerns on growth
- Li Keqiang calls for steady supply of agricultural goods
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said preemptive steps and fine-tuning of policies are needed to address challenges facing the economy, as concern builds over slowing growth.
During a meeting on Wednesday of the State Council, Li also called for authorities to ensure the supplies of major agricultural goods and improve capacity of reserves, according to state broadcaster CCTV. He didn’t elaborate on details of any new measures.
The comments by China’s No. 2 leader come shortly after he said the economy faces new downward pressures and called for cuts in taxes and fees to ease pressure on small and medium-sized companies. Growth has slowed in recent months due to a confluence of factors including virus controls and power shortages, and the highly infectious delta variant is now spreading across the country.
The economy displayed further signs of weakness in October, with an electricity crunch weighing on manufacturing and strict coronavirus controls stemming holiday spending. On Monday, the Ministry of Commerce alarmed internet users by encouraging people to stock up on essentials to prepare for winter or emergencies, prompting the government to later clarify that supplies of daily necessities are “sufficient everywhere.”
There has been concern that extreme weather could affect vegetable production and transportation. Wholesale vegetable prices have already soared in recent weeks, costing more than meat in some cases, after heavy rains drenched major producing regions in the north and flooded the top-growing province of Shandong.