More Chinese provinces cut growth targets this year as gloom spreads

BEIJING (Reuters) - More Chinese provinces have cut their annual growth targets in 2019 than the year before, a sign of deepening pessimism among local governments amid weakening domestic demand and an prolonged trade dispute with the United States.

FILE PHOTO: Shipping containers are seen at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China September 8, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

The lower regional targets reinforce expectations of a further slowdown in the world’s second-biggest economy this year, after 2018 gross domestic product expanded at its slowest pace in nearly three decades.

Of China’s 31 provinces, regions and municipalities, at least 23 cut their economic growth targets for this year, according to provincial announcements this month. In 2018, 17 provinces set lower targets.

Shandong, China’s third-richest province, has yet to announce its 2019 target.

Five provinces - Sichuan, Hebei, Guizhou, Gansu and Hainan - kept their targets unchanged from last year. That compares with 12 provinces that maintained their targets in 2018.

Only one province - Hubei - raised its target, encouraged by an emerging high-tech manufacturing sector.

“The new provincial targets reflect the challenges faced by China. Export-driven coastal areas are facing the risk of lower growth amid uncertainty from the U.S.-China trade war,” said Tommy Xie, China economist at OCBC Bank in Singapore.

“Western China will remain the key source of growth due to the rise of consumption and services,” Xie said....

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