China brainstorms new 5-year plan

Enhancing food security in the world's most populous country is expected to be a prominent theme.

28 October 2020 | Economics

BEIJING - China's fifth Communist Party Plenum - which runs through Thursday behind closed doors – is expected to lay out the framework for the country's 14th five-year economic plan, which will have a broad impact on an array of commodity markets through 2025.

Full details of the plan are expected to be unveiled at the annual parliament meeting in early 2021, but president Xi Jinping and key Communist Party decision makers are expected to agree on several key blueprints this week.

The world's top coal consumer is expected to curb use of the fossil fuel and accelerate green energy adoption to hit its targets of a peak in carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060.

Experts say China needs to bring the share of coal in its total energy mix from 58% last year to less than 50% by 2025, and boost support for technology like carbon capture.

The country is making a big push from coal to gas and also has plans to build six to eight nuclear reactors in 2020-2025.

Consultancy Wood Mackenzie said that for China to reach its goal, solar, wind and storage capacities must increase eleven-fold to 5 040 gigawatts (GW) by 2050 compared with 2020 levels. Coal-fired power capacity will have to halve, while gas power generation capacity will have to end at the same level as 2019.

The country is also expected to launch a nationwide carbon-emission trading scheme (ETS) and set targets on other emissions such as methane.

FOOD SECURITY

Enhancing food security in the world's most populous country is expected to be a prominent theme after pork prices soared to record highs amid a deadly hog disease outbreak and key supply chains were disrupted by the trade war with the United States and the Covid-19 epidemic.

In addition to rebuilding herds, China is also looking to build grain reserves, promote domestic output and diversify international crop suppliers.

Beijing is expected to approve expansions to strategic reserves across a range of commodities, from pork and grains to rare earths and crude oil.

Key industrial metals linked to the planned green energy transition - such as copper and cobalt - are also expected to be discussed.

ENERGY, MARKETS

Following the recent launch of national oil and gas pipeline network known as PipeChina, China is expected to spur demand for gas, which Beijing views as a key bridge fuel to a greener energy mix.

Beijing is expected to keep pushing for higher domestic oil and gas production for supply security, including developing its potentially vast shale gas resources.

China has so far internationalised five commodities futures contracts as part of its ambitions to boost pricing power: crude oil, TSR 20 rubber, low-sulphur fuel oil, iron ore and purified terephthalic acid (PTA).

It will launch its long-awaited international copper futures contract on 19 November, which will give foreign investors access to trading in the world's top consumer of the metal.

The Shanghai Futures Exchange is also set to launch a freight index futures contract in 2021, which is also expected to be accessible to foreign investors.

Other planned contracts include palm olein on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, while soybeans, soy oil and soymeal futures are expected to eventually be internationalised as well. – Nampa/Reuters

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