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ADB lowers China's 2012 growth prediction

(Xinhua)

08:15, July 13, 2012

BEIJING, July 12 (Xinhua) -- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday lowered its prediction for China's economic growth to 8.2 percent in 2012 and 8.5 percent in 2013, although a bank official said a hard landing is unlikely.

The ADB made the revised prediction in the newly published Asian Development Outlook Supplement. The agency predicted in April that China's gross domestic product would increase by 8.5 percent in 2012 and 8.7 percent in 2013.

The ADB said China has seen a fall in net exports, industrial production and fixed asset investment, although government spending on health, education and large infrastructure projects are expected to boost the economy.

As the country moves to a more sustainable growth model, growth may slow down more than expected, said the report.

"In this case, we're still confident that there will be no hard landing for China's economy," Robert Wihtol, director-general of ADB's east Asia department, said Thursday.

Wihtol said that although downside risks are increasing for China in the short-term, China's sound fiscal position and potential for further monetary expansion "should ensure a soft landing for the economy."

"China's economic growth is estimated to moderate in the first half of 2012 and recover later in the year, underpinned by an expansionary policy stance," said Wihtol.

China on Monday announced that the inflation rate for the first half of the year was 3.3 percent, with the consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, easing to a 29-month low of 2.2 percent in June, driven by falling food prices.

Wihtol said less inflationary pressure allows China's policymakers to focus on stabilizing growth, which will provide room for further stimulus measures.

Due to the weak economy, China lowered benchmark one-year interest rates two times in the first half and started work on liberalizing interest rate margins.

Wihtol said given the current inflationary prospects, further quantitative easing will likely take place in the months ahead,particularly through additional reductions in the reserve requirement ratio.

Premier Wen Jiabao said earlier this week that it is important to promote reasonable growth in investment to stabilize economic growth.

"It's important for China to maintain reasonable investment in order to meet short-term challenges," said Wihtol.

But Wihtol stressed that it is also important for the government to keep its eyes on the mid- and long-term target of economic rebalancing and restructuring.

China should direct its transformation toward a more sustainable development pattern to avoid the "middle income trap," he said.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is set to update figures for China's gross domestic product for the second quarter on Friday. Its GDP growth eased to a near-three-year low of 8.1 percent in the first quarter and is widely expected to slow for a sixth straight quarter in April-June.

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