Economy Apr 21

Coronavirus lockdown damage seen in north and south China 

Epidemic takes bite out of capital’s GDP and southern industrial heartland’s foreign trade

by Nadeem Xu
Coronavirus lockdown damage seen in north and south China 
Beijing commuters in masks cycle to work. The coronavirus epidemic dented Q1 GDP almost 7%. 

(ATF) The extent of the economic damage wrought by China’s coronavirus lockdown was laid bare at either ends of the country on Monday.

Beijing's regional gross domestic product (GDP) was tallied at 746.2 billion yuan ($105.5bn) in the first quarter, down 6.6% year-on-year, local authorities said Monday.

In breakdown, the added value of the services sector saw the slowest decline, of 4.8% during the three-month period to 654bn yuan, compared with a 17.5% drop in manufacturing and a 22.9% decline in primary industries.

While the service sector suffered a greater impact as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, sectors including finance and IT showed strong resilience and maintained moderate growth momentum, according to the municipal bureau of statistics.

New industries, new forms of business and new models emerged and grew rapidly amid the epidemic as the "homebody economy," remote working and online education brought brisk demand for internet services, the bureau said.

Pang Jiangqian, bureau deputy director and spokesperson, said the city saw its major economic indicators pick up in March, with high-tech industries and the new economy showing vitality.

In the south of the country, Guangdong Province saw its trade with ASEAN countries grow 7.7% even as total foreign trade declined amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Guangdong customs office said that the province's total trade volume in the first three month dropped 11.8% to 1.37 trillion yuan, with exports down 14.4% and imports shrinking 7.8%.

The ASEAN area became Guangdong's biggest trade parter in the quarter, accounting for 16% of the province's total trade volume. The customs office said foreign trade began to slowly revive in March as the country began to emerge from a pandemic-spurred lockdown.