China kicks off central economic work conference for 2018



Chinese decision makers have gathered in Beijing to map out economic and reform plans for 2018, as the closed-door Central Economic Work Conference reportedly opened Monday.

The conference, which has been held annually since 1994, is a key event as it sets the direction for policy priorities and key economic targets for the year ahead.

The conference will focus on implementing decisions laid out by the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), with high-quality development as a fundamental requirement, according to Xinhua.

“China’s economy has been transitioning from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development. This is a pivotal stage for transforming our growth model, improving our economic structure, and fostering new drivers of growth,” said General Secretary Xi Jinping at the 19th CPC National Congress in late October.

“Pushing for high-quality development is the fundamental requirement for determining the development path, making economic policies and conducting macroeconomic regulation at present and in the future,” said a document released after the meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee earlier this month.

High-quality development

The meetings sent a clear signal for future economic priorities, as China will seek solid progress in containing overall leverage ratio and preventing major risks, alleviating poverty, and controlling pollution, with an overall plan being made to “ensure the winning of the three tough battles.”

Top policymakers at this year’s central economic meeting will probably shift priorities from growth speed to quality while tacking specific issues such as increasing debt, poverty and pollution, top experts said on Sunday.

A new set of economic indicators could put more focus on the environment, people’s livelihood and technological innovation, according to Liu Xuezhi, a senior macroeconomic analyst at Bank of Communications.

Chinese leaders are likely to maintain this year’s growth target of “around 6.5 percent” in 2018, according to Xing Ziqiang, chief economist of Morgan Stanley in China.

It is said other hot issues will also be discussed, including promoting rental housing system, tax and fee reforms.

This year’s conference will reportedly close Wednesday, with a final policy document expected to be released as is customary.