China GDP grows 6.9 percent in the second quarter

Growth in China’s economy this year has beaten expectations as exports recover and property construction remains strong. (Reuters)
Updated 17 July 2017
0

China GDP grows 6.9 percent in the second quarter

BEIJING: The Chinese economy grew faster than expected in the second quarter, boosted by stronger industrial output and personal consumption as well as steady investments.
The country’s GDP grew 6.9 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday, which was also the same rate as the previous quarter. Analysts have expected the Chinese economy to expand 6.8 percent in the second quarter.
Growth in China’s economy this year has beaten expectations as exports recover and property construction remains strong, though many analysts expect the world’s second-largest economy to lose steam later in the year as policy measures to rein in red-hot housing prices and a rapid build-up in debt take a greater toll on growth.
“Overall, the economy continued to show steady progress in the first half...but international instability and uncertainties are still relatively large, and the domestic long-term buildup of structural imbalances remains,” the statistics bureau said in a statement.
The government is aiming for growth of around 6.5 percent in 2017, slightly lower than last year’s actual 6.7 percent, which was the weakest pace in 26 years.
China’s factory output grew 7.6 percent in June from a year earlier, the fastest pace in three months, while fixed-asset investment expanded 8.6 percent in the first six months of the year, both beating forecasts.
Retail sales meanwhile rose 11.0 percent in June from a year earlier, the fastest pace since December 2015 and beating analysts’ expectations for a 10.6 percent rise.
An acceleration in global demand for Chinese products could be a boon for the country’s leaders as they seek to contain a dangerous build-up in debt that has ballooned to 277 percent of GDP.
“(The new data) is encouraging for global growth as well because China is the second largest economy on the planet,” said Craig James, chief economist at Commonwealth Securities in Sydney.
“Based on this data, there is no need for easing and no need really for tightening either because inflationary pressures are very much contained. So I think the People’s Bank of China just continues to be watchful.”


Cleartrip acquires Saudi Arabia’s online travel firm Flyin

Updated 5 min 54 sec ago
0

Cleartrip acquires Saudi Arabia’s online travel firm Flyin

  • Online travel market opens up in Kingdom
  • Growth of budget carriers boosts destination options

LONDON: Dubai-headquartered Cleartrip has acquired the Saudi Arabian online travel company Flyin in an effort to capitalize on the growing online and mobile travel business in the Kingdom.

The deal is considered one of the largest in the travel sector in the Middle East and the combined company will have more than 60 percent of the regional market share.

The two business combine represent $600 million in sales — excluding Cleartrip’s India business.

Cleartrip’s CEO Stuart Crighton said in a phone interview that the deal will help his company “double-down on the growth we’ve been experiencing in the Middle East and allow us to start to explore broader opportunities within the Mena region.”

Abdullah Al Romaih, founder of Flyin, said in a statement: “Cleartrip will also help us to offer our customers new and enhanced travel experiences.

“We look forward to having Cleartrip continue to support the economic growth in the Kingdom, as well as the evolving travel needs of our customers.”
The acquisition reflects the growing appeal of booking holidays and travel online in Saudi Arabia, said Crighton, particularly via mobile phones rather than just on a desktop.

“What we do is bring a lot more technology specifically around our mobile platform, and significantly more content,” said Crighton, which he sees as complementary to Flyin’s localized content. 

He added that there might be an option to expand the Flyin brand, with Cleartrip content, into other Arabic-speaking nations in the future, but that would be “further down the line”.

Not only has the means of booking travel changed in the Kingdom, Saudis are also looking to travel to different regions and seeking a wider variety of accommodation and travel options.

“There has been a disintermediation of the travel world we understand. Traditionally it has been a very luxury-driven market,’ said Crighton.

This has been partly fueled by the emergence of more low-cost airlines in Saudi Arabia and the wider Gulf region, coupled with a growing youth population that are looking for better value for money.

“It reflects a very young demographic and a digitally-savvy demographic that are looking for affordable choice,” Crighton said.

Travel destinations for both Saudi and other Gulf holidaymakers are also shifting, he said.

“If I just look at my office during the Eid break. Half are off to Baku. others are off to Georgia, some are off to the Dalmatian Coast,” he said, adding these were options not available before the rise of more low-cost travel options.

While noting Saudi Arabia is a “complex” market, Crighton remains optimistic about the growth opportunities for the Kingdom’s travel business.

“There is a lot of new content coming online in Saudi itself — new airlines and the domestic travel environment is changing quickly as well.”
He said he anticipated a lot more interest from other non-Saudi companies.

“There is a lot of fact finding about what is going on in that market … once people get comfortable with that, it will create opportunities and lot of companies will gear themselves up to look for those kind of partnerships,” he said.