01/17/2009, 00.00
CHINA
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Shanghai authorities expect tough economy in 2009

The city has been hit hard by the drop in exports, and by the crisis in the petrochemical, steel, and automobile industries. The industrial and export contraction is expected to continue for a number of months. But there is optimism over the city's extensive human and technological resources.

Shanghai (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The leaders of the communist party in Shanghai admit the city has been hit hard by the global financial crisis. And that 2009 will be even harder.

Economic growth in the city has been estimated at "only" 10% in 2008, after 13.3% in 2007. And yesterday, mayor Han Zheng, during the people's congress in Shanghai (in the photo), said that growth in 2009 is expected to be 9%, the lowest level since 1991. This estimate is partly influenced by a steep decline in the automobile, steel, and petrochemical industries over the past two months, and with the forecast for a further contraction in exports for at least another three months.

These expectations are shared by the head of the local communist party, Yu Zhengsheng, who, on January 14, said that "You should not worry about certain figures going down in the short term or simply chase figures for the sake of figures. We need to focus on the long term." There will be a strong focus on employment, said to be one of the "main priorities," with special concern for the 200,000 new graduates seeking work, including the 150,000 who graduated last summer.

Han also says he is convinced that there are "good prospects" for development, because of the significant availability of human, scientific, and technological resources, and resources in the education sector. He says that World Expo 2010 in Shanghai will be a good opportunity for economic growth.

The party's recipe for addressing the crisis is well known: public interventions in support of the economy, attracting more foreign investment, and especially enhancing services, given Shanghai's role as a financial center and air transport hub. But it also means emphasizing technological innovation at the universities, research institutes, and businesses, including through public financing.

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