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July 30, 2009

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Work force shrinksas exports fall 24%

THE labor force in the southern city of Dongguan - one of China's biggest manufacturing bases - shrank 10 percent in the first half of 2009 compared to the same period last year as the global financial crisis hit the export market, the city's mayor said yesterday.

Economic growth in Dongguan, in Guangdong province, has averaged 18 percent each year for the past three decades, but the city's economy expanded only 0.6 percent in the first half of 2009, the mayor, Li Yuquan, said.

Li said the city's goal this year was to achieve 10 percent economic growth, but it would be difficult to hit that target. "We are really facing great pressure," he said.

The mayor said Dongguan - home to 13,000 foreign-invested companies - is heavily reliant on exports, which dropped by 24 percent in the first half.

The city's factories are major producers of electronics, footwear, furniture and hardware.

The city's population of 11 million includes about 5.7 million workers, Li said.

There had been reports of waves of factory closures in Dongguan, where 153,000 manufacturers are registered. But Li said in the first half of this year, 342 factories closed or relocated - 78 fewer than the same period in 2008.


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