At a recent press conference sponsored by the Information Office of the State Council in Beijing, Qiu Xiaohua, deputy director of the National Bureau of Statistics, stated that the first quarter saw a good beginning for the national economy. According to preliminary prediction, the GDP totaled 1,989.5 billion yuan, up 8.1 percent on last year's same period in terms of constant prices. The growth rate equaled last year's same period and was 0.7 percentage point higher on the fourth quarter of last year, presenting a momentum of steady growth, which contrasted sharply with the lagging economic growth worldwide.
The quality of China's economic performance continued to improve in the first quarter. The profits of industrial enterprises increased by a large margin, with the total amount in the first two months surging to 48.3 billion yuan after losses were offset, up 45.8 percent on last year's same period. The profits of State-owned and State-holding industrial enterprises rose by 62.3 percent. The losses of enterprises were reduced considerably. In the first two months, the losses of loss-making enterprises dropped by 12 percent, 8.2 percentage points greater than the margin of decline in last year's same period. Of this, the losses of State-owned and State-holding loss-making enterprises dropped by 18.6 percent, 16.6 percentage points greater than last year's same period. Financial revenue maintained fairly rapid growth, with the amount in the first quarter totaling 368.2 billion yuan, a rise of 27.9 percent on last year's same period.
The value added of agriculture in the first quarter totaled 155.6 billion yuan, with the growth rate of 3 percent equaling last year's same period. The cultivation structure underwent continuous readjustment. Industrial production maintained fairly rapid growth, and the balance between production and marketing was kept. The industrial product-marketing rate stood at 96.14 percent, equaling last year's same period. With the fast growth of transport, postal and telecommunications sectors and the steady development of the domestic market and the real estate sector, the value added of the tertiary industry reached 736.6 billion yuan in the first quarter, up 7.4 percent on last year's same period. Of this, transport, postal and telecommunications sectors rose by 8.5 percent, commerce by 7.9 percent, and real estate by 6.7 percent.
Fixed asset investment grew swiftly. Social investment in fixed assets totaled 387.8 billion yuan in the first quarter, up 12.4 percent on last year's same period. Of this, fixed asset investment of State-owned and other economic sectors rose by 15.1 percent to 256 billion yuan, that of collective units increased by 14.1 percent, and that of individual investors rose by 3 percent. Fixed asset investment showed the following main characteristics. Investment in technological upgrading and renovation and real estate development increased rapidly, with that in the former surging by 25.2 percent and that in the latter by 22.9 percent. Industrial investment picked up quickly, with investment in the machine-building industry rising by 24 percent and that in the textile industry by 130 percent. Investment in the western region jumped by 23.4 percent, a rise of 6.2 percentage points on that in the eastern area and 16 percentage points higher on that in the central region.
Sales on the domestic market remained brisk, and commodity prices rose slightly while keeping stable. In the first quarter, the volume of retail sales totaled 925.6 billion yuan, up 10.3 percent on last year's correspond-ing period. Of this, the volume of retail sales in urban areas rose by 11.5 percent and that in rural areas by 8.3 percent. The wholesale and retail trade and catering sector saw 11-percent and 16.1-percent increases respectively. The consumer price of the residents nationwide dropped by 0.7 percent from last year's same period, showing a trend of slight increase while remaining stable. The consumer price of urban residents rose by 0.6 percent, while that of rural residents increased by 0.8 percent. In composition, the price of such items as recreation, education, cultural articles, service and housing rose fairly rapidly.
The total volume of import and export reached US$113.8 billion in the first quarter, up 15.9 percent on last year's same period. Of this, export rose by 14.7 percent to US$59.3 billion and import by 17.3 percent to US$54.5 billion. Foreign capital utilization increased in rehabilitation. Paid-in direct foreign investment totaled US$7.98 billion in the first quarter, up 11.7 percent on last year's same period. The exchange rate of the Renminbi remained stable, and the country's foreign exchange reserves increased continuously.
The incomes of urban and rural residents continued to go up. The per-capita disposable income of urban residents in the first quarter averaged 1,846 yuan, up 4.7 percent on last year's same period, while the per-capita cash income of farmers rose by 4.8 percent to 636 yuan.