China meeting to set 2019 economic polices said to start Dec 19


BEIJING • China’s leaders will hold their annual economic policy-setting meeting from Dec 19 to Dec 21, according to people briefed on the plans, as pressure mounts on Beijing to address US concerns over market access before a March 1 deadline for trade talks.

At a meeting of the Politburo yesterday led by President Xi Jinping, top leaders signalled that campaigns announced last year against financial risk, pollution and poverty will continue. The nation should further stabilise employment, finance, trade, foreign investment and boost market confidence in 2019, according to a statement published by the official Xinhua news agency.

The annual gathering lays down priorities for economic policy for the coming year, though detailed targets aren’t usually released until legislative meetings in March. For 2019, China faces a tough combination of slower growth at home and uncertainty over the conduct of trade given the ongoing tension with the US.

Policymakers will need to calibrate extra stimulus without hobbling the nation’s fight against debt.

“China is facing a more complex situation and needs bolder steps in reforms and opening up to offer new incentives to growth against the big, long-term backdrop of the trade war with the US,” said Nie Wen, an economist at Huabao Trust in Shanghai.

He said he expects an easier monetary stance to reverse the overly-tight credit environment and a bigger budget deficit.

Facing a 90-day trade truce with the US, China may see the need to announce further measures aimed at answering US criticism, such as steps to open up protected markets.

Some of those may be expected at a meeting to mark the 40th anniversary of country’s “Reform and Opening Up” process, which the people said will start from Dec 18. They asked not to be named as the plans aren’t yet public.