Zhuhai boosted by Gree as investment slows

Zhuhai’s economy is being held aloft at an above-average growth rate by its key industrial enterprises, especially Gree Group, the home-appliances king, latest data show. However, investment has been slowing recently, and foreign trade is under pressure, with exports declining sharply in Q1.

In Q1, the city’s GDP rose 7.4%, a percentage point above the national average, to RMB67.168 billion. It was the third-fastest growing city in the Greater Bay Area, behind Dongguan and Shenzhen. This was despite a YoY decline of -2.8% in the primary sector (raw materials). Industrial production was up 7.7%, thanks to the contributions of large-scale enterprises. Services were up 7.5%, with retail sales showing a recovery from a slump last year.

Gree, led by the formidable Dong Mingzhu, winner of a billion-yuan bet recently with Xiaomi chairman Lei Jun, had a strong quarter. The city’s home appliance industry was up 21%. The bio-pharmaceutical industry was next best at +12%, while precision instruments and petrochemicals came in at +9.0% and +7.6%, respectively. However, the electronic information industry saw anemic growth, up just1.6%.

More worrying was investment. Overall investment, at +5.7%, was several percentage points slower than the same period last year. This was due to a slump in private-sector investment, which was down 5.9% in the quarter. 

Trade is clearly feeling the effects of a weakening external environment.The total volume of imports and exports was -11.4% YoY, pulled down by a -19% plunge in exports.

Foreign direct investment rose by just1.6%.

In the services sector, retail sales are recovering and domestic demand is improving. Tourism is being seen as a key driver of future growth in Zhuhai. This is especially considering the Hengqin Railway Station opens at the end of the year, which is expected to boost arrivals to the seaside city. The Zhuhai-Hengqin Intercity Railway Line will improve access to both the Chimelong Ocean Resort – which opens a big new phase this year – and the soon-to-open Novotown resort in Hengqin.Read more here (in Chinese).