China to remain global growth engine

08:31, January 27, 2011      

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World business leaders continue to see China as the engine of global economic growth despite the tremendous challenges it faces in shifting from an investment and export-led development pattern to a consumer-led one in the coming years.

Of the 1,201 global business executives surveyed in PwC's 14th Annual Global CEO Survey, 39 percent said China would remain the leading growth engine, while 21 percent cited the United States, 19 percent named Brazil and 18 percent pointed to India.

The findings of the poll were released on the eve of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

The four-day event in the Swiss Alps brings together at least 35 national leaders, including the presidents of Russia and France, and over 1,400 business chiefs.

While the survey showed optimism almost back at pre-crisis levels, Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the WEF, highlighted opportunities in emerging markets.

Global CEOs also saw China, the US and India as the most important future sources of products and raw materials.

Regionally, 90 percent of the CEOs said they expected their operations to grow in Asia in the next 12 months, followed by Latin America at 84 percent, Africa at 75 percent, the Middle East at 72 percent and Eastern Europe at 70 percent.

The survey, which was conducted in 69 countries during the last quarter of 2010, also showed CEOs' confidence in future growth. Forty-eight percent of the CEOs said they were "very confident" of growth in the next 12 months, representing a major increase from 31 percent last year.

Zhu Min, China's highest-ranking official at the International Monetary Fund, said that global recovery was still being driven predominantly by India and China.

"For the emerging markets, I think growth is very strong. China will still end up with about 9 percent, and India will probably grow at around 8 percent," said Zhu, the IMF's senior advisor.

He said that China's growth remains heavily reliant on fixed-asset investment such as road construction, real estate and railways, which is unsustainable.

New York University Professor Nouriel Roubini agreed that China is facing the challenge of changing its development pattern. "The glass is half empty and half full. There are some positives and some downside risks," he said.

Roubini cited as key downside risks the eurozone debt crisis, a double-dip recession in the US housing market and higher commodity prices leading to social unrest in some areas.

Martin Sorrell, chief executive of advertising group WPP, said: "This is not just a shift from West to East but also from West to South."

"This is the decade of Latin America, with Brazil holding the World Cup and the Olympics. And in Asia, it isn't just India and China, but places like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Thailand."

Social inequality between the haves and the have-nots both in advanced and developing economies will be a key future risk, analysts predicted.

"The increase in inequality is the most serious challenge for the whole world, both for emerging markets and for advanced ones ... I don't think the world has paid enough attention to this," said Zhu.

Source: China Daily
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