China In-Focus — Shanghai’s economy slows in Q1; Driverless Pony.ai gains taxi license
BEIJING: The economy of Shanghai, China’s most populous city, slowed in the first quarter of 2022, hurt by rare declines in industrial output and retail sales that were hammered by the country’s most serious COVID outbreak.
Shanghai’s gross domestic product grew just 3.1 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, the local statistics bureau said on Saturday, significantly less than the 4.8 percent growth in the national GDP during the same period in 2021.
In 2021, Shanghai’s GDP rose 8.1 percent.
“In January-February, the city’s economic operation was stable, but due to the impact of the COVID outbreak in March, the first quarter was marked by stability followed by a decline,” the city’s statistics bureau said in a statement.
Shanghai started reporting COVID-19 cases in the latest outbreak in early March, with authorities declaring a lockdown of the entire city of 25 million people in early April when infections escalated.
The economic slowdown in Shanghai, which did not publish GDP data for the fourth quarter of 2021, is widely expected to have worsened in April.
Its GDP contracted 6.7 percent in January-March 2020 when the new coronavirus first emerged.
Pony.ai receives taxi license in China
Self-driving tech company Pony.ai, backed by Toyota Motor Corp, said on April 24, it had obtained a taxi license in China, which will allow some of its driverless vehicles to start charging fares.
The company said it was the first autonomous driving company in the country to do so.
The startup said it was awarded the license to operate 100 driverless vehicles in the Guangzhou city district of Nansha.
Pony.ai last year also won approval to launch paid driverless robo-taxi services in Beijing and has since begun offering rides.
In Beijing, however, rides are being offered in a much smaller, industrial zone on a trial basis, a Pony.ai spokesperson said.
According to the company’s statement, in Nansha, it will start charging fares in the entire 800 square km of the district with driverless cars. Passengers can hail and pay for rides with Pony.ai’s own app.
Pony.ai will initially deploy those cars with safety drivers but expects to remove them “over the short to intermediate time frame,” it said.
China pledges to joining Zambia creditor committee: IMF
China has agreed to joining Zambia’s creditor committee, International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva said on Thursday, amid complaints from Zambia’s finance minister about delays to its debt restructuring.
People’s Bank of China governor Yi Gang said that China intended to co-chair the committee, two sources with knowledge of the International Monetary and Finance Committee meeting told Reuters.
Zambia became the first pandemic-era default in 2020 and is buckling under a debt burden of almost $32 billion, around 120 percent of GDP.
“We were very pleased to hear from Governor Yi Gang… a very specific commitment to join the creditor committee on Zambia and work expeditiously for debt resolution,” said Georgieva at the IMF Spring Meetings.
She added that he had also committed to the Common Framework debt restructuring process, launched by the Group of 20 (G20) leading economies in 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Zambia’s finance minister Situmbeko Musokotwane said at public events on Thursday that the debt restructuring process had “stalled” and that the Zambian team had “come here to complain.”
(With inputs from Reuters)