Chinese construction bounces back with demand “basically at last year’s levels”

Infrastructure construction has accelerated across China in the past month as the government invests to counteract the economic effects of the coronavirus lockdown.  

Data from the China Construction Machinery Association shows that excavator sales, considered a bellwether for construction activity, reported that almost 49,500 machines were sold in March, a 12% year-on-year increase.

Meanwhile, the output of cement and steel rose, according to data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, with the former reaching 94% of its pre-coronavirus level on 6 April and the latter showing a rise of 127,000 tonnes sold in the beginning of March to 238,000 tonnes in April.

"Demand in the construction industry has basically recovered to last year’s level. driven by new and resumed projects," said Xu Xiangchun, an analyst with, told China Daily.

The news outlet added that one of the main drivers of the industry’s resurgence has been local government funding. The issuance of local government bonds, used mainly to fund infrastructure schemes, is set for double-digit growth this year, with the total value issued in March hitting $55bn, bringing the total for the first quarter to about $220bn.

Outside China, the country faces a fall in exports as its trading partners suffer the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and international construction projects face delays.

The latest to be announced is Chongoene airport, to be built in Gaza province in southern Mozambique, by China Aviation International Construction and Investment. This is now expected to be completed six months later than planned, as Chinese workers have been prevented from returning to the country after they went home for the Lunar New Year celebrations.

More data on China’s recovery will come on Friday, with the release of first quarter GDP figures.

Image: China’s excavator market is considered a key indicator for the wider economy (Zoomlion)

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