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ICBC to Add Loans for Small Enterprises to 500 Bln Yuan

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China's largest commercial bank, plans to further explore the burgeoning small enterprise market by offering loans of between 400 to 500 billion yuan to small enterprises over the next three to five years.

Li Xiaopeng, vice president of ICBC, announced the plan at a high-level symposium on financing for small enterprises in Beijing on Thursday.

The quality of the loans lent to small enterprises, whose annual revenues were under 30 million yuan, kept improving recently, with the non-performing loan ratio dropping to 0.81 percent, much lower than the average level of ICBC's corporation clients, said Li.

Statistics from ICBC showed that by the end of June this year, loans for small-scale enterprises stood at 191 billion yuan, nearly three times higher than the amount at the beginning of 2005.

ICBC would provide small enterprises with more innovative and customer-tailored services, including settlement, investment banking, finance consulting and e-banking, and increase the coverage of such services, added Li.

Statistics from the China Association of Small and Medium Enterprises showed that the nation had over 4.3 million registered small-and medium-sized enterprises. They contributed 59 percent of China's gross domestic product (GDP) and employed 75 percent of the nation's labor force by the end of 2006.

However, these small enterprises were in a disadvantageous position in terms of access to capital, technologies and information compared with their much larger competitors.

The government would adopt new measures to support small enterprises, including giving them better and more timely business information, more staff training programs and more government procurement opportunities, said Zhang Hongli, Chinese deputy finance minister, at the symposium. (US$1 equals to 7.58 yuan)

(Xinhua News Agency July 27, 2007)

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