Hubei Takes A Country-Sized First-Quarter Hit

Bridge over the Yangtze River at Wuhan seen at night. Public domain. Photo credit: inthesky

IF THE FIRST-QUARTER shrinkage of China’s economy was severe at 6.8%, it was devastating in the Covid-19 pandemic’s epicentre.

Under tight lockdown, Hubei experienced a 39.2% year-on-year contraction of its provincial economy, according to the newly released official figures.

Manufacturing output was down 48.5%, unsurprisingly given that the provincial capital Wuhan (seen in the photo above) is such an industrial centre. It accounts for 10% of vehicle-making, for example, and is home to a vast supporting cast of parts manufacturers.

However, the decline in manufacturing was broad-based. Retail sales dropped 44.9%. Fixed-asset investment was down 82.8%.

Hubei is the seventh-largest provincial economy, around the same size as a country like Austria or Norway, or at least it was pre-pandemic. The loss of output in the first quarter, at $38.6 billion, is the equivalent to the annual production of a nation like Bolivia or the Ivory Coast.

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