China agrees to stronger IMF economic data standards

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The Chinese government committed itself Wednesday to delivering economic data that meets International Monetary Fund (IMF) standards, the crisis lender said.

The People’s Republic of China will meet the IMF’s Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS), which the Washington-based crisis lender called “a major step forward for official statistics” in the world’s most populous country.

Beijing’s participation “underscores China’s strong commitment to transparency as well as to the adoption of international best practices in statistics,” said David Lipton, IMF first deputy managing director.

Chinese state media on Thursday confirmed the country’s acceptance of the statistical benchmark.

“The adoption of SDDS is a necessary step in reform and opening up, which will further improve China’s statistical transparency, credibility and comparability among different economies,” the official Xinhua news agency cited the People’s Bank of China as saying.

Reliable data is meant to help governments make sound economic policy decisions. China is the 65th country to subscribe to the IMF’s highest economic data standards.

The Chinese data commitment was announced in Lima ahead of this week’s IMF annual meeting.

“China and the IMF have been working together to improve China’s statistics for many years, and subscribing to the SDDS is another milestone of this fruitful and important collaboration,” said Yi Gang, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China.

China is committed to further strengthening its statistical system and enhancing transparency, Yi said.

“This is not only crucial for our own policy making, but also beneficial for a better understanding of the Chinese economy by the outside world,” he said.

The standards are meant to guide IMF members in issuing economic and financial data that is high quality, reliable, timely and public.

In November 2014, China announced its intention to work toward meeting the SDDS standards, which IMF chief Christine Lagarde welcomed at the time, saying it would “greatly enhance the availability of timely and comprehensive economic and financial data.”

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