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Transcript of Press Call on the Publication of the 2019 China Article IV Staff Report

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Via IMF (Den Internationale Valutafond)

Transcript of Press Call on the Publication of the 2019 China Article IV Staff Report







August 13, 2019















James Daniel, Assistant Director, Asia Pacific Department

Ting Yan, Communications Officer, Communications Department

 

MS. YAN: Good afternoon, and good morning to those who dialed in from
China. Thank you for joining today’s call on 2019 China Article IV
Consultations Report. My name is Ting Yan. I’m Press Officer at the IMF.
Our speaker today is Mr. James Daniel, Mission Chief for China, and
Assistant Director of the Asia and Pacific Department. You should have seen
the reports, which are already published on IMF.org. James will highlight
some of the key messages in his opening remarks, and then we will be happy
to answer your questions after that. James?

MR. DANIEL: Thank you, Ting, and thank you to everybody who’s dialed in.
Thank you for your interest in our report. Let me just make a few words as
introduction. Growth moderated in 2018, and, so far, in 2019, reflecting
financial regulatory strengthening and softening external demand. Financial
deleveraging and reduced interconnectedness between banks and non-banks
have helped contain the buildup of financial risks, but vulnerability has
remained elevated, and progress on rebalancing is mixed. While a moderate
slowdown is expected in 2019, uncertainty around trade tensions remains
high, and risks are tilted to the downside.

This year’s consultation focused on how to successfully shift from high
speed to high quality growth in such a highly uncertain environment. This
requires stabilizing the economy, amid rising trade tensions, while
continuing with deleveraging and strengthening rebalancing. The five key
elements are to, first, adjust macroeconomic policies to allow for a more
flexible exchange rate. Already announced policy measure should be
sufficient to stabilize growth in 2019. Although, given the recent increase
in tariffs, a small fiscal expansion could be appropriate, which should be
on budget, centrally financed, pro-rebalancing, and targeted to low income
households to help maximize the multiplier effect, and contribute to lower
poverty and inequality.

Second, improve external policies and frameworks by working constructively
with trading partners to better address shortcomings and enable an
international trade system that can more readily adapt to economic changes
in this national environment. The global economy would benefit from a more
open, stable, transparent, rules-based international trade system. China
also has an important role to play in this regard, and would benefit from
further opening up, and other structural forms that enhance competition.

Third, continue strengthening the financial sector by fully implementing
the announced regulatory reforms, strengthening bank capitol, especially
for smaller banks, and enhancing macroprudential tools to address
vulnerabilities from rising household debt. Developing a clear resolution
regime would facilitate the exit of weak banks. Removing the implicit
guarantees and hardening the budget constraint for state-owned enterprises
would improve credit allocation and limit state-owned enterprises’
advantage in accessing credit.

Fourth, boost competition by opening up nonstrategic sectors, particularly
services to private and foreign enterprise, and unifying product markets
across localities within China. Fifth, and last, modernize policy
frameworks by eventually moving to a single policy rate in the monetary
policy framework, reducing the misalignment of center local fiscal
responsibilities and further improving transparency and statistics. Thank
you.

MS. YAN: Thank you, James. Now, we can proceed to answer questions.

QUESTIONER: Hi. Thank you so much for doing this. I just wanted to be
crystal clear about what you guys are finding in this report. I see that
there is a portion where you guys talk about the exchange rate. You say
that the decline that we see in the RMB, in your examination of that,
suggests that there has been little currency intervention by the PBC. Is
this sort of your way of saying that you don’t see any sign that China is
manipulating its currency, and can you give us any update on the status
talks with Treasury?

MR. DANIEL: Thank you. As we explain in the staff report, and, indeed, in
the recently published external section report, we see RMB, in 2018, as
broadly in line with medium term fundamentals and desirable policies, i.e.
not significantly over or undervalued. We will conduct further analysis in
2020, as part of standard IMF processes, but let me offer some broader
context.

We, at the Fund, have supported increased flexibility of China’s exchange
rate, further rebalancing and opening up of the Chinese economy, and other
structural reforms. For some time, in fact, we’ve been encouraging the
authorities to continue along this path. A more flexible, market-determined
exchange rate would help give monetary policy more room to address domestic
conditions, and is in line with recommendations in the staff report. And
our advice on rebalancing in the Chinese economy has been aimed at helping
China reduce its excessively large current account surplus, which indeed
has happened, and to ensure that this imbalance does not arise again. That
means opening up more sectors to private and foreign competition, removing
impediments to trade, reducing the dominance of the public sector in many
industries, boosting consumption, and working with China’s international
partners to improve the international trading system. We see continued
rebalancing and opening up by China, and increased exchange rate
flexibility as being in China’s own interest and would also benefit the
global economy.

QUESTIONER: Can you update us on your status of talks with Treasury?

MR. DANIEL: Our discussions with the U.S. Treasury are ongoing on a range
of issues.

QUESTIONER: Okay, fair enough. Thank you.

QUESTIONER: Yes, just to clarify, following the last question. Have you
done any analysis, recently, of whether or not China is intervening in the
currency markets, and, also, you say that you estimate that if tariffs on
remaining 300 billion in Chinese imports to the United States were
increased to 25%, it would cut eight tenths off of Chinese growth in the
following 12 months. Can you update with the current status? In other
words, can we assume half of the increased 10% would cut four tenths or
three tenths off of growth?

MR. DANIEL: Thank you. On FX intervention, I would just point you to what
we have on the report on that. I think that would be in paragraph eight.

MR. DANIEL: Estimates suggest little FX intervention by the PBC.

QUESTIONER: Yes, but that was last year. So, I just want to see if there
was any update.

MR. DANIEL: We have nothing further to offer you on that one. I’ll also
draw your attention to the fact that we have strongly encouraged the
Chinese authorities to publish data on FX intervention. You also had a
question, I think, on the impact of 25% on the 300 billion? The estimate we
had in the report, of course, was without the 10%.

So, 25% from nothing would have been 0.8. Ten percent took off 0.3. So, my
back of the envelope suggests 0.5, from a theoretical escalation from 10 to
25. Does that make sense now?

QUESTIONER: Yeah, that’s great, but, so, from — with the 10% imposed, as
of September 1st, that would — you would estimate it at 0.3 –

MR. DANIEL: More or less.

QUESTIONER: Okay. Thank you.

MR. DANIEL: Obviously, these depend a lot about financial market impacts,
confidence impacts, et cetera, but that’s our estimate.

QUESTIONER: Hi, James. Thanks for doing the call. I’ve got another question
on foreign exchange issues as well. Given, you know, sort of the assessment
that you made in the external sector report, I’m just wondering is it the
IMF’s view that if, you know, that China’s recent support or the Yuan, you
know, keep it at a stable level, you know, following the (inaudible) 2015
downdraft, is that something that’s been viewed as a positive thing, and,
you know, would it be — would we be seeing a significantly lower Yuan, if
it was much more allowed to sort of react to market forces?

MR. DANIEL: Thank you. I think our two main takeaways for you, on this one,
are that we see — we assessed the 2018 average value of the RMB as broadly
in line with fundamentals, and we have encouraged the authorities to move
towards more flexibility in the management of the exchange rate, and
they’ve been making progress in this regard, and we hope it will continue.
In terms of estimates of intervention in the past, I think we’ve provided
information on that, but you can see for yourself that reserves have fallen
since 2015.

QUESTIONER: Perfect, and are you encouraging them to intervene much? I
mean, is that what you’re saying, you know, by making it more flexible?
That means less intervention, or -?

MR. DANIEL: Correct, less intervention. We — our advice is to move towards
more flexibility. We don’t rule out intervention, if necessary, in certain
circumstances, but our basic line is more exchange rate flexibility.

QUESTIONER: Hi. Thanks very much for doing this call. James, apologies for
pushing you, again, on the currency situation, but can I ask if you — if
the drop in the renminbi had happened within the timeframe of your report,
would you be reevaluating your position on China’s intervention and
currency markets and, indeed, in the value of the renminbi?

MR. DANIEL: You can certainly ask. I’m afraid we do this assessment once a
year, and the reason why I can’t give you a direct answer to that is that
it’s not just what happens to the RMB. You know, what happens to all the
other policies in China, the fundamentals elsewhere in China, and other
exchange rates across the globe? So, I’m not able to do that assessment for
you at this stage.

QUESTIONER: Thank you, James, for doing this, and I also have a question
regarding exchange rate. It said in the report that the estimate for May
2019 show that yuan has depreciated about 0.2%, according to the 2018
outreach. I was wondering whether you have any reason behind this, or any
explanation why does the (inaudible) during this period? It didn’t give any
more specific information, or does it mean that China has officially
depreciated the exchange rate in the (inaudible) of itself? Thank you.

MR. DANIEL: That’s a purely factual statement. We just compare this Article
IV to the last Article IV of the average rate, average effective rate, and
that’s what the movement is.

QUESTIONER: — so you’re not going to have — further evaluate or any
announcement before next annual report regarding this issue?

MR. DANIEL: Correct. We do a multilateral assessment of all our members’
exchange rate and external sector policies. We publish that in the external
sector report, usually the middle of the summer, and that’s reflected,
also, in the staff report, which is what you see, now.

QUESTIONER: Hi, James. Thank you for doing this, and I just want to clarify
on two issues. One is that — how do you comment on U.S. manipulation tag,
or anything lately, and do you still maintain assessment in June that
remain these not overvalued or undervalued and still suggest that
(inaudible) enhances flexibility to absorb external shock, even in — after
the recent depreciation? Thank you.

MR. DANIEL: I’ve got nothing to add to the — what I just said on the
manipulation question, but, in terms of how we advise the authorities to
respond to the recent tariff shock, I would point you to paragraph 24, the
third bullet, where we say, under an adverse scenario, and this was back in
July, the exchange rate should remain flexible in market, determined to
help absorb the tariff shock.

QUESTIONER: HI, James. Thank you for doing this. So, my question is that
for when you’re on the Chinese currency, like the Fed recently, last week,
had (inaudible) and are the tariffs bring downward pressure to RMB. So, I’m
wondering how do you see the different external factors that influence the
RMB, and what do you think PBOC should — that they could do anything
regarding the complex external factors? Thank you.

MR. DANIEL: Yeah. There are certainly many complex factors. We — I don’t
want to speculate on what needs to be happening in its current situation,
but our general advice is that monetary policy should increasingly focus on
domestic economic conditions, while aligned exchange rate to take more of a
role to absorb external shocks. Beyond those general framework answers, I
don’t have anything more specific for you.

QUESTIONER: Hi, James. Thanks for having this. My question is about —
because, in this report, you said it’s unnecessary to take additional
stimulus if there’s no further increase in target, but we see the trade
tensions escalating. So, can you elaborate more about what kind of fiscal
and other additional policies need to take to maintain the economic
development and financial stability? Thank you.

MR. DANIEL: Sure. I just refer you to the remarks I made at the beginning,
which actually took into account for this. The report that you have in
front of you were sent to our executive board, in the middle of July, and
is only issued now. So, please bear that in mind. It did not include the
latest increase on 10%, on the additional imports.

My opening remarks, though, were up to date, and in those opening remarks,
on the first point, I said that given — although, given the recent
increase in tariffs, a small fiscal expansion could be appropriate.

So, yes, you pointed out correctly that our advice had been that a fiscal
expansion could be appropriate if tariffs were to be significantly
increased, and, although the increase wasn’t quite as significant as the
scenario we considered, it was still increased, and we think that a
proportionately — that that replies some kind of response, but on your
more general question, I think there’s an awful lot that China can and
should be doing to put its economy in the best possible position to deal
with these kind of tensions, and that’s to continue with the reform and
opening up.

That is very much in China’s own interests, as well as helping the global
economy, and that’s to do with opening up more sectors to private and
foreign competition, removing impediments to trade, reducing the dominance
of public sector in many industries, boosting consumption, and there are a
whole list of issues that I think is very much in China’s interests to do,
which would also help the global economy and exports to China from many
other countries. So, that’s our main piece of advice there.

MS. YAN: Thank you. If we don’t have any more questions, we will conclude
today’s press call. Thank you, James, and thank you, everyone for joining
us today. We will publish the transcript later today or tomorrow, and then,
if you have any questions, please email me at tyan@IMF.org. Thank you.


IMF Communications Department
MEDIA RELATIONS

PRESS OFFICER: Ting Yan

Phone: +1 202 623-7100Email: MEDIA@IMF.org

@IMFSpokesperson








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