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China virus epicenter Hubei lags as regional growth picks up

Hubei’s gross domestic product shrank 10.4% in the first three quarters compared with the same period last year, according to data released by the provincial statistics bureau.

By: Bloomberg | October 28, 2020 3:59:47 pm
China, COVID-19, EconomyHubei’s economy -- which in the first quarter plunged 39.2% from a year ago as Wuhan was placed under quarantine -- has a long way to go to reach full-year growth. (AP Photo/Andy Wong/Representational)

Most Chinese provincial economies regained the ground they lost in the first half of the year, with the notable exception of Hubei, where the coronavirus outbreak first emerged in its capital Wuhan.

Hubei’s gross domestic product shrank 10.4% in the first three quarters compared with the same period last year, according to data released by the provincial statistics bureau. It was among only four of China’s 29 provinces that reported year-to-date contractions in the nine-month period.

China’s recovery from the pandemic picked up pace in the third quarter, taking GDP in the nine-month period to 0.7% as the economy regained the ground it lost in the early months of the year. The regions largely mirror that outcome, with inland provinces like Guizhou and Gansu posting the strongest recoveries.

Hubei’s economy — which in the first quarter plunged 39.2% from a year ago as Wuhan was placed under quarantine — has a long way to go to reach full-year growth. But momentum is clearly picking up, with GDP expanding sequentially about 74% and 11% in the second and third quarters, respectively, according to Bloomberg calculations.​

Authorities have rolled out measures to stimulate growth in Hubei, including giving out 500 million yuan ($74.5 million) in shopping vouchers, doling out cash to some households, and providing tax breaks until the end of the year. The national government also promised to expand free-trade zones in Hubei province to lure investment back to the region.

​Inner Mongolia, northeastern Liaoning and Heilongjiang were the other three provinces to post contractions in the nine months through September from a year earlier. The city of Tianjin, a key port city in the north, made up all its GDP losses in the first half of the year.

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