This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Over the past seven decades, China has made remarkable progress in development owing to the hard work, wisdom and courage of the Chinese people, and in the course of its mutually beneficial exchanges and cooperation with the rest of the world. Going forward, China has the capacity to take good care of its own affairs and make new contributions to the common development of all countries.
This year, in spite of the complex international environment, the Chinese economy has, on the whole, registered steady growth and solid progress with major indicators performing within our expectations. GDP growth stood at 6.2 percent in the first three quarters of this year and is expected to stay in the range of 6 to 6.5 percent set out early this year. Close to 11 million urban jobs have been newly created, and the surveyed urban unemployment rate in September was 5.2 percent. International payments have been balanced overall with foreign exchange reserves remaining above US$3 trillion. Structural adjustments are making steady progress. We have seen another bumper harvest of grains. The high-tech manufacturing and modern services industries have maintained fairly fast growth. An average of nearly 20,000 businesses are newly registered every day, maintaining a strong momentum of business growth. This testifies to the dynamism of entrepreneurship and innovation in society and the confidence of market entities. The per capita disposable income of urban and rural residents has been rising in sync with economic growth, the ecological environment is improving, and continued progress has been achieved in meeting people's basic needs. These achievements have not been easy for China, particularly when its economy has surpassed US$13 trillion and major economies around the world are seeing a slow-down in growth. It once again proves the resilience, potential and vitality of the Chinese economy and our ability to fend off risks and challenges. The fundamentals sustaining China's positive economic outlook for the long term remain unchanged and will not change.
That said, due to the slowing global growth, the Chinese economy is also facing difficulties and challenges amid mounting downward pressure. Fully anticipating the complex and challenging situation at home and abroad, we have made comprehensive preparations and responded with proactive measures. As the largest developing country in the world, China has intensified its efforts to promote a new type of industrialization, IT application, urbanization and agricultural modernization through deepening reform and opening-up. This process has generated stronger driving forces from within and promises unlimited potential for future development.
China has a 900 million-strong work force, a talent pool of over 170 million with higher education or professional skills, and more than 100 million and still growing market entities. We have a huge market of nearly 1.4 billion people with fast upgrading consumption demand, a full-fledged industrial system with a growing innovative capacity, and well-established infrastructure. All these constitute a strong underpinning for China's growth.
In the meantime, the host of major policies and measures we have taken are paying off. For example, the larger-scale tax and fee cuts adopted early this year have effectively slashed 1.53 trillion-yuan worth of taxes and fees in the first eight months of this year. And the amount for the whole year is expected to surpass 2 trillion yuan. Such cuts will help relieve burdens on businesses, invigorate market entities and counteract the downward pressure.
Furthermore, we have stepped up efforts to nurture a world-class, market-oriented business environment governed by a sound legal framework and provide a level playing field for businesses of all types of ownership, domestic and foreign-invested alike. In the first three quarters of this year, despite the sluggish flows of FDI globally, foreign investment in China grew by 6.5 percent year on year. It shows that foreign companies remain optimistic about China and about making investment in China.
Besides, with a large toolkit and sufficient policy reserves for macro-regulation at our disposal, we are confident about meeting the main targets and goals for this year's economic and social development, laying a solid groundwork for the coming year.
China is a friendly neighbor to all countries around the table, ASEAN, Japan and the ROK. China's development will first and foremost benefit its neighborhood. Last year, all ASEAN countries, Japan and the ROK participated in the first China International Import Expo (CIIE), ranking among the top in terms of products exhibited and transaction value. The second CIIE, which will be even larger in scale, is to open in Shanghai shortly. China looks forward to the active participation of your countries. Looking ahead, no matter how the external environment may change, China will stay committed to the path of peaceful development and all-round opening-up. We will share development opportunities with the people around the world, jointly foster an open world economy, and build a community with a shared future for mankind.
As APT cooperation now enjoys stronger popular support, a more solid basis and greater opportunities for further development, China will, together with all parties, make APT cooperation a major engine for regional economic integration and contribute more to the long-term prosperity and stability of East Asia.