China's economy 'will grow' despite 'grim' 2012 outlook

Financial district of Beijing
Image caption The annual policy-setting conference takes place in Beijing

China's economic policymakers have pledged to guarantee growth in 2012, despite an "extremely grim" global outlook for the year ahead.

After their annual closed-door economic meeting in Beijing, the country's leaders declared that monetary policy would remain "prudent".

They said the currency, the yuan, would remain "basically stable".

The meeting avoided big policy changes before China's top two leaders retire next year, analysts said.

In another announcement, China's Commerce Ministry said it would put a tax on imports of small US cars.

'Grim and complicated'

The world's number two economy laid out its plans for the year against an uncertain economic outlook.

"The trend in the global economy on the whole is grim and complicated. Uncertainties are rising around a recovery in the world economy," said the statement, published by the official Xinhua news agency.

But it added: "China will ensure that macroeconomic regulation policies and overall consumer prices will remain basically stable and will guarantee the steady growth of the economy and maintain social stability."

The Central Economic Work conference brings together China's central and provincial bureaucrats, the heads of the biggest state companies and the army's top generals.

China's growth has slowed for three quarters in a row and some economists predict it could fall below 9% next year, for the first time since 2001.

The nation has had its own inflation problem, falling from a three-year high in July of 6.5% to 4.2% last month.

They reiterated their commitment to boost imports in order to balance trade. The move is likely to find favour with European and US exporters, who have long complained about the trade surplus China has been running.

Car wars

In the continuing trade spat between the US and China, the Commerce Ministry said it would impose an anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duty on small US cars.

The tariff will range from 2% to 21.5% and will affect General Motors, Chrysler, Ford and other US-based foreign car makers.

It will start on Thursday and last for two years, said a statement on the Commerce Ministry's website.

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