Foshan joins trillion-yuan club

Foshan’s mayor could obviously not contain his excitement this week, waiting no more than a day into 2020 to announce that in 2019, his city’s GDP exceeded the 1 trillion yuan mark for the first time, becoming only the third in Guangdong to do so (behind Shenzhen and Guangzhou), and just the 17th in the country.

He provided no further details, because the final statistics have not yet been released by the National Bureau of Statistics. Yet based on preliminary data from last year, it had been already quite clear that Foshan would hit its goal. In the first three quarters, Foshan’s GDP came in at 793.179 billion yuan, an increase of 7.0%. This was well ahead of the national and provincial average, by 0.8 and 0.6 percentage points, respectively.

Indeed, 2019 turned out to be a much better year than had been expected at its start. This was largely due to the rapid upgrading of its manufacturing industry, which performed well, despite the intensity of the US-China trade war. In the first ten months, industrial output rose 7.3%, accounting for about 14.2% of the province’s total. Household appliances, metal products, ceramic building materials and several other traditional industries continued to lead the charge, according to local media, thanks to technological upgrading, which boosted their competitiveness.

Foreign trade, as a result, turned out better than had been expected at the start of the year, and defied expectations as the trade war wound on over the course of the year. From January to October, trade of 402.79 billion yuan was up 6.6% YoY, of which exports came in at 312.54 billion yuan, up 7.4%, while imports were 90.25 billion yuan, up 4.1%.

The three major industries of home appliances, furniture, and ceramics saw exports rise by 7.3%, 15.4%, and 9.3%, respectively. Making up for loss of demand in the US was growth in the EU, which remained above 11%, while countries along the Belt and Road Initiative grew by 11.2%. 

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