China will be unwavering in its efforts to eliminate excess steel production capacity this year, an official said Friday.
Xu Lejiang, vice minister of industry and information technology told a press conference, responding to concerns about the government's next steps after recent steel price hikes.
"The government's resolution to downsizing the steel sector will not be shaken, and the efforts will not weaken," Xu said.
Xu stressed that 2017 would be a crucial period for the capacity cut. China's steel companies suffered in 2015 as prices plunged due to serious oversupply, with huge losses across the whole industry. The government quickly moved with an array of measures, which have gradually revitalized the sector.
The benchmark China Steel Price Index jumped 76.5 percent to 99.51 points throughout the whole last year, with price recoveries in both spot and futures markets.
"Profiting companies saw their combined profits more than double from a year ago, while unprofitable companies slashed their losses by 51 percent," Xu said.
Xu pledged measures to further stimulate the sector this year, including reductions of low-quality steel products and phasing out outdated and substandard capacity.
Besides, more energy will be channeled into the settlement of loss-making "zombie companies," especially in the handling of debts and displaced workers, Xu said.
Excess capacity weighs on China's overall economic performance, thus, cutting overcapacity is high on the reform agenda.
Some 65 million tonnes of capacity was eliminated last year, beating the official target of 45 million tonnes. China plans to reduce steel output by a total of 100 million to 150 million tonnes from 2016 to 2020.