April 17, 2019 / 11:17 AM / 6 months ago

China considers plan to ease controls over new car licenses: Caixin

FILE PHOTO: Newly manufactured cars are seen at the automobile terminal in the port of Dalian, Liaoning province, China July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is considering plans to relax controls over the issuance of new car licenses in major cities to boost flagging auto sales, financial magazine Caixin reported on Wednesday, citing a draft document by the country’s state planner.

Caixin said China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) had issued a document containing the proposals on April 11, without saying how the magazine had obtained it. Copies of the document were widely circulated on Chinese social media on Wednesday.

According to the document, the NDRC is considering plans to increase the number of newly issued automobile licenses in big cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou by 50 percent this year, and double that next year, from current 2018 levels, Caixin said.

It also said local governments should not implement traffic restrictions and curbs on buying electric vehicles, and should remove relevant measures if already taken.

Efforts by Reuters to reach the NDRC for comment were unsuccessful outside business hours. Caixin said people close to NDRC’s policymaking department did not deny the authenticity of the document.

Beijing has been trying to boost consumption of goods ranging from eco-friendly appliances to big-ticket items such as cars to fire up growth, as the world’s second-largest economy is expected to slow further in 2019.

Auto sales in China, the world’s largest car market, contracted for the first time last year since the 1990s but executives told Reuters this week that they expect the market to return to growth this year thanks to government support.

Official data showed earlier on Wednesday China’s economy grew at a steady 6.4 percent pace in the first quarter, defying expectations for a further slowdown, as industrial production jumped sharply and consumer demand showed signs of improvement.

Reporting by Lusha Zhang and Brenda Goh; Editing by Dale Hudson

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