Thursday, July 9, 2009

Is China On the Road to Recovery?

(One of our partners, Fiducia Management Consultants, recently sent its mid-year review on China, “Is China On the Road to Recovery”. I thought you might be interested in seeing it.-DPM)

Recent indicators show that the Chinese economy may be on its way to recovery though signs remain mixed. Given the size and diversification of domestic markets, we believe that Foreign-Invested Enterprises (FIEs) should pursue opportunities arising from pockets of growth.


􀂃 The Chinese economy shows signs of recovery …

􀂃 … and signs of worsening

􀂃 Stimulus package re-allocated to drive sustainable growth …

􀂃 … but has little impact for most companies

􀂃 Tight credit for non-SOEs will continue throughout 2009

􀂃 FIEs are comparatively disadvantaged in face of “re-nationalisation”

As a result of the government’s massive stimulus package (see our May Update), industrial production and retail sales in May rose 9% and 15% respectively from the same month last year. The Purchasing Manager Index (PMI) has been above 50, which represents a month-on-month expansion of manufacturing activities, for the third consecutive month since March.
However, it is debatable whether China’s underlying growth is sustainable. For instance, the export market continues to tumble (declining 26% year-on-year for the first five months), and the problem of over-production remains unsolved in pillar industries such as basic chemicals and steel. In addition, electricity consumption of manufacturing activities hovers at low levels. Consumer prices are also down for the fourth consecutive month. Both factors indicate that China is facing deflationary pressure.

Faced by these new challenges, the Chinese government has re-allocated its RMB 4 trillion investments to drive sustainable growth. While more focus will be put on social welfare (from 1% to 4% share), civil projects (from 7% to 10%), technology advancement and industry restructuring (from 4% to 9%), the government has adjusted the spending on infrastructure (from 45% to 38%) and sustainable environment (from 9% to 5%) downwards. This confirms that on top of increasing fixed asset investment, China has realised it must to keep more wheels in domestic economy turning. To date, the central government has spent a quarter of the RMB 1.2 trillion it committed to the stimulus package.

Limited access to subsidies and tenders
Since the largest part of the stimulus package will flow to infrastructure, direct beneficiaries are limited to construction materials and related services providers. Moreover, according to Fiducia interviews with companies and associations in the construction industry, bidding for such projects normally go through public tenders, in which competition among SOEs (State-Owned Enterprises), POEs (Privately-Owned Enterprises), and FIEs is intense. The government subsidy programmes which aim to boost domestic consumption on products such as automotives and home appliances usually favour households in the rural areas and apply to a selective range of low-price products only. Therefore, companies who qualify for the subsidies are limited.

Credit Tightens
Tight credit will continue for the rest of the year after the amount of new RMB loans hit a record high in the first quarter. The credit extension pace has slowed down since April due to the increasing risks which have raised central government concerns. According to interviewees, POEs will be in a more difficult situation as banks’ lending policy usually tilts towards SOEs. Payment terms renegotiation is popular along the value chain in most industries. Credit pressure and cash flow management are still on companies’ top agenda.

Change in economic landscape
Against the background of SOEs receiving more financial support than POEs, the concept of “re-nationalisation” has arisen. This refers to SOEs using their relative financial strength and political support to crowd out or take over POEs, for example in the domestic airline or steel industries. SOEs hold this important role in order to avoid mass unemployment connected with much-needed market consolidation. These national champions are further supported to grow stronger to become internationally competitive.

Instead of seeking advantage from these developments, most FIEs are constrained in China due to their headquarters’ negative performance.

Industry Focus


Growth Drivers
􀂃 Provision of cash rebates and tax cut for rural auto purchase (extending to urban areas)

􀂃 Removal of fuel tax and lower petrol prices

FIEs Opportunities
􀂃 Supply or co-develop parts and components for Chinese auto makers and JVs, especially of new energy vehicles


Growth Drivers

􀂃 Recovering domestic demand from downstream industries

􀂃 “Green” export barrier (e.g. REACH, CLP) pushes industry upgrade

FIEs Opportunities
􀂃 Target specialty areas and produce for domestic demand (e.g. construction chemicals)

􀂃 Leverage international best practice


Growth Drivers
􀂃 Allocation of RMB 26 billion to environmental projects in 2009-2010

􀂃 Improved transparency in public tendering process of environmental projects

FIEs Opportunities
􀂃 Participate in demonstration projects (e.g. pollution treatment)

􀂃 Partner with local companies for government support

Construction Materials

Growth Drivers
􀂃 Allocation of over RMB 150 billion to infrastructures and RMB 38 billion on construction of affordable housing in 2009-2010

􀂃 Sustained demand for commercial property in 2nd and 3rd tier cities

FIEs Opportunities
􀂃 Target on value-added construction materials (e.g. lighting)

􀂃 Develop energy efficient and durable products to meet domestic demand

No comments:

Post a Comment