Chinese central bank governor says economy strong, financial leverage under control

FILE PHOTO - People's Bank of China (PBOC) Governor Yi Gang speaks at a panel at the Boao Forum for Asia in Qionghai, Hainan province, China April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s economic fundamentals are strong and the country has sufficient policy tools to guard against systemic risks, People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang said on Saturday, according to Xinhua.

“In 2017, China’s non-financial leverage ratio increased slightly, the corporate leverage ratio declined somewhat and leverage in the financial sector was brought under control,” Yi said during annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, according to Xinhua.

Beijing has prioritized containing financial risks, after years of debt-fueled growth put China’s economy on what the IMF previously called a “dangerous and unsustainable” trend.

In statements carried on the PBOC website, Yi reiterated recently announced measures to open the financial sector, with measures to “be implemented either in the next few months or by the end of this year”.

The meetings in Washington come as the United States threatens $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports to try to force changes in Beijing’s industrial policies, which the United States says are aimed at acquiring American intellectual property.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday he may travel to China, a move that could help ease tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

“China will continue to support multilateralism and an open and rules-based multilateral trade system, advocating cooperation and dialogue,” Yi said, according to the PBOC website.

Reporting by Elias Glenn and Gao Liangping; Editing by Stephen Coates