China Cuts Taxes, Sets Lower GDP Target For 2019

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang

As the economy slows, the government has unveiled a military budget increase of 7.5 percent to 1.2 trillion yuan ($177.6 billion), lower than last year's 8.1 percent hike.

Recent economic data point to the difficulties China faces, with growth in the last three months of 2018 clocking in at 6.4 per cent.

Every year, China's premier delivers a Work Report at the Two Sessions meetings, which acts as a policy agenda for the coming year.

To help shore up the economy, Li said China's fiscal policy will become "more forceful", with the government pencilling in cuts of almost 2 trillion yuan (US$298.31 billion) in taxes and fees for companies.

According to the plan, Chinese inflation will accelerate to about 3 percent this year from 2.1 percent in 2018.

In a push to ramp up infrastructure investment, China's finance ministry has raised the special bond issuance quota for local governments to 2.15 trillion yuan from 1.35 trillion yuan past year.

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In an apparent nod to the United States, with which China has been talking to strike a trade deal, Li emphasized that Beijing will proceed with its "reform and opening-up" policy, created to develop a market economy under the ruling Communist Party.

Seeking to defuse USA and European complaints the Chinese system is rigged against foreign companies, Premier Li Keqiang promised in a speech to the National People's Congress they will be "treated as equals" with their Chinese competitors.

The lower tax revenue and higher government spending mean Beijing has increased its budget deficit target to 2.8 per cent of GDP from last year's 2.6 per cent.

"Trade frictions between China and the U.S. have brought ill impact on the operations of some companies and on the market prospects".

Global stock markets crept upward Tuesday despite China lowering its economic growth target, as the government took the sting out of the bad news by announcing a major tax cut.

"What we faced was profound change in our external environment", Li said at the opening of China's National People's Congress, as reported by several news outlets.

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Asked at a news conference about Beijing's response to Washington's increasingly hard-line policy toward China, Zhang said, "It won't get you anywhere to deal with new problems in the context of globalization with a Cold War mentality".

To support private and smaller firms, Beijing will step up targeted cuts in the reserve requirement ratio for smaller and medium-sized banks with an aim to boost lending to small companies by large banks by more than 30 percent, Li said. A year since removing any legal barrier to remaining China's leader for life, Xi Jinping appears firmly in charge, despite a slowing economy, an ongoing trade war with the us and rumbles of discontent over his concentration of power.

Three-quarters of provinces have already lowered their annual growth targets this year. China will work toward mutually beneficial cooperation, win-win development and settling trade disputes through discussions as equals, the report says.

China might be preparing to offer measures like the further opening of the auto and financial sector to foreign investment and cutting of tariffs of foreign products as concessions in negotiations with the United States, and thus Li had no incentive to make pledges in these areas before a deal is reached.

China had earlier offered to buy some $30 billion in US farm products each year as part of the possible trade deal between the two nations.

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