Retail sales increased 8.3 percent year-on-year against forecast expansion of 7 percent , the Chinese government said in a report.

Gross domestic product in China also increased, rising by 8.2 percent to 5 trillion yuan in the first six-months of the year. This will continue through the remainder of 2003, with annual growth for the year expected to top last year’s 6 percent.

”Consumer spending bore the brunt of SARS and will rebound,” Yao Jingyuan, chief economist at the National Bureau of Statistics, told a Beijing press conference. “Economic growth will pick up in the third quarter.’’ 

The figures show that Chinese consumers are venturing back to shopping malls and restaurants throughout the country after the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome was halted.

Foreign investment

The outbreak reached its zenith in April and May, killing some 813 people throughout the region.

Economic growth in May, the highpoint in the crisis slid to 4.3 percent, according to the report.

Foreign investment in China is also increasing as business people revert to more frequent travel after restrictions on movement were lifted.

Citigroup this week became the second foreign company to invest in the country’s securities under the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor scheme. UBS Group SA has also subscribed to the investment plan.