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China Maintains Strong Growth and Reform Momentum

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Economic growth in China has remained strong in 2017, supported by rising household incomes and improving external demand. Growth is projected at 6.8 percent in 2017, exceeding initial expectations, according to the World Bank’s China Economic Update released today.

“China has maintained its growth resilience and gained reform momentum. The authorities have undertaken a host of policy and regulatory measures aimed at reducing macroeconomic imbalances and limiting financial risks without notable impact on growth. As a result,2017 has been a successful year for China on many fronts. Economic rebalancing received a boostthe growth of household incomes and consumption accelerated this year relative to investment,” said John Litwack, World Bank Lead Economist for China.

The recovery in global trade has been an important factor supporting economic activity in China in 2017, with net exports contributing positively to growth for three consecutive quarters, compared to a negative contribution in 2015-2016. Business confidence has improved as well, job creation remains buoyant, capital outflows have stabilized, and the Renminbi has appreciated against the US dollar, the Update says.

Since late 2016, the Government has introduced important measures to slow down the pace of leverage in the economy. These include tighter monetary policy and a series of regulations to reduce financial risks. In response, growth in total credit to the non-financial sector moderated to 14.1 percent annualized in the eleven months of 2017, compared to 15.9 percent in 2016. An even more significant slowdown in the expansion of credit has been observed in the non-bank financial market.

GDP growth is expected to decelerate to 6.4 percent in 2018 and 6.3 percent in 2019 mainly because of domestic policy tightening. Prudent monetary policy, stricter financial sector regulation, and the Government’s continuing efforts to restructure the economy and to reign in the pace of leveraging are expected to contribute to the growth moderation.

Favorable economic conditions make this a particularly opportune time to further reduce macroeconomic vulnerabilities and pursue reforms that target ‘better quality, more efficient, fairer, and more sustainable development,’ as emphasized by President Xi during the 19th Party Congress in October,” said Elitza Mileva, World Bank Senior Economist and co-author of the report.

The special topics included in this report take stock of two important on-going reforms – of the government budget and of China’s pension system. Successful implementation of these reforms is critical to China’s macroeconomic stability, economic rebalancing, and social transformation over the coming years.

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EU Politics

PES Europe Ministers call for a European Budget that rises to the challenge

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President of FEPS Maria João Rodrigues MEP, First Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, and Germans Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth photo: PES

Europe needs ambitious short- and long-term planning, the Ministers of European Affairs from the PES agreed today during their discussion of the European budget for 2021-2027.

The chair of the network, German Minister for Europe Michael Roth, called for a European budget that promotes social wellbeing, innovation and sustainability across Europe.

Roth said:“The fundamental role of the European budget is to ensure cohesion, convergence and growth. It is the main tool Europe has to invest in the future, to bring countries closer together, and to make sure our children and grandchildren have a good life. When negotiating the European Budget both the short and long term must be kept in mind. Our ambition today, shapes the Europe of tomorrow. I want a bright Europe for tomorrow.”

The Ministers continued their discussion on the state of the rule of law in Europe.

Roth added:“Democracy and the rule of law cannot be interpreted freely. All Member States have to abide to the same clear set of rules. We will continue keeping a close eye on the issue. And we will continue supporting the great work that the EU Commission’s First Vice President Frans Timmermans is carrying out.”

The meeting was attended by:

  • Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, Chair, Germany
  • Helena Dalli, Minister for European Affairs and Equality, Malta
  • Ana Paula Zacarias, Secretary of State for European Affairs, Portugal
  • Hans Dahlgren, Minister for EU Affairs, Sweden
  • Frans Timmermans, First Vice President of the European Commission, European Commission
  • George Katrougalos, Foreign Affairs Ministers, Greece (observer)
  • Maria Joao Rodrigues, Vice President of the S&D Group, chair of the PES FEN Network, European Parliament
  • Javier Moreno, Secretary General of the S&D Group, European Parliament
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EU Politics

Migration and asylum: EU funds to promote integration and protect borders

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MEPs backed on Tuesday increasing the EU budget for migration and asylum policies and to reinforce borders.

The Civil Liberties Committee endorsed the renewed Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), the 2021-2027 budget of which will increase up to €9.2 billion (€10.41 billion in current prices, 51% more than in the previous financial framework). It also backed the creation of a new Integrated Border Management Fund (IBMF) and agreed to allocate €7.1 billion (€8 billion in current prices) to it.

The AMIF should contribute to strengthen the common asylum policy, develop legal migration, in line with the member states’ economic and social needs, contribute to countering irregular migration and ensure effective, safe and dignified return, readmission and reintegration in non-EU countries.

But it should also ensure “solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility between the member states, in particular towards those most affected by migration challenges, including through practical cooperation”, MEPs state.

MEPs also want to make sure that funds can be allocated to local and regional authorities, and to international and non‑governmental organisations, working in the field of asylum and migration.

Integrated Border Management Fund to secure EU’s external borders

IBMF will provide funding to build and enhance member states’ capacities in border management and visa policy. The funding dedicated to member states (60 % of the total envelope) will reflect their needs and take into account additional pressures. Furthermore, a new EU thematic facility (40% of the total envelope) will ensure flexibility to channel emergency funding to member states and EU-level projects when urgent action is needed.

MEPs also added safeguards to ensure that actions and measures funded through the Instrument comply with the EU’s fundamental rights obligations, in particular with the principles of non-discrimination and non-refoulement.

Both funds will operate in full synergy. They will also work closely with the reinforced Internal Security Fund (ISF) focusing on tackling terrorism, organised crime and cybercrime.

Next steps

The draft proposal on the renewed AMIF passed with 31 votes to 23 and 1 abstention. The new IBMF was backed by 41 MEPs, 9 voted against and 2 abstained. The full House will have to confirm its position in the first March plenary, ahead of the negotiations with the Council of the EU.

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EU Politics

Trade negotiations with US can start under certain conditions

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The Trade Committee on Tuesday endorsed the mandate to start limited EU-US trade talks, but set conditions on the conclusion of a deal.

Starting talks is in the interest of European citizens and companies, as it would ease current tensions in EU-US trade relations, brought about by the US administration’s actions, said International Trade Committee MEPs in the report adopted by 21 votes to 17, with one abstention.

They nevertheless note that the conclusion of a trade agreement based on the current negotiating mandate can only be successful if the following conditions are met:

  • the US must lift tariffs on aluminium and steel;
  • a comprehensive consultation process with civil society and a sustainability impact assessment are carried out;
  • the EU insists on including cars and car tariffs in the talks, and on excluding agriculture;
  • talks will be suspended if the US levies another tariff;
  • more clarity on how rules of origin (which lock in how much of the value of a product must be created locally for trade preferences) are handled during the talks.

Background

The European Commission submitted its draft negotiating mandates to the Council for approval on 18 January. The mandates will authorise the Commission to negotiate with the US on eliminating tariffs on industrial goods and on harmonising conformity assessment.

Next steps

Parliament will vote on its stance on the mandates in March. EU Council of Ministers is expected to adopt the draft negotiating mandates in the same month. The Commission will start negotiations on the basis of the final mandate.

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