Beijing, March 16 (IANS) China’s industrial production plummeted 13.5 per cent year-on-year in the first two months of 2020, its worst decline in 30 years, due to the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the countrys national statistics office said on Monday.
The figure, well below analysts’ forecasts, who predicted about a 1.5 per cent growth, is the worst for industrial production since January 1990’s 21.20 per cent drop, when the statistics were first gathered, reports Efe news.
This drop is a stark contrast to the December 2019 data, which showed that Chinese industrial production increased by 6.9 per cent year-on-year.
Industrial production measures the activity of large companies with a minimum 20 million yuan ($2 million) annual turnover.
Manufacturing production fell by 15.7 percent in the same period, due to the 6.5 per cent drop in production in the mining sector.
Products of which manufacturing did grow in January and February are face masks (127.5 per cent), smartwatches (119.7 per cent), frozen meat (13.5 per cent) and instant noodles (11.4 per cent), highlighting the demand caused by prevention measures against the virus.
Retail sales fell 20.5 per cent year-on-year, according to the statistics office.
The agency also offered China’s fixed-asset investment data Monday, which plunged 24.5 per cent compared to the same period last year.
“While domestic conditions should improve slowly in the coming months, the mounting global disruption from the coronavirus will hold back the pace of recovery,” analyst Julian Evans-Pritchard of British consultancy firm Capital Economics said in a report, adding that the data had been much weaker than expected and pointed to a deeper recession than that of the 2008 global financial crisis.
According to Evans-Pritchard, “the March data is likely to be even worse”.
“Admittedly, the high-frequency data we track show that economic activity has started to recover gradually in recent weeks,” he said. “But the slump in February was diluted in the data by being averaged with January, when most of the disruption had yet to be felt.”