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China's regional disparity offers growth potential


14:52, May 08, 2013

BEIJING, May 8 (Xinhua) -- China's regional disparity could bring vast potential for economic growth, a top economist from Standard Chartered Bank said Wednesday.

"In the next five years, China's economy will maintain a growth rate of 7 to 8 percent thanks to the growth opportunities offered by the regional disparity," said Stephen Green, Standard Chartered's chief economist for China.

China's economic growth ticked down to 7.7 percent in the first quarter, falling short of market expectations and suggesting a tepid rebound for the economy.

Green said those worried about China's economic slowdown are overreacting, as the differences in economic development between China's regions could provide a strong engine for economic growth.

Green used data acquired through the bank's research to categorize Chinese cities into three tiers according to their GDP per capita.

Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin are first-tier cities, with an annual GDP per capita of nearly 80,000 yuan (about 12,903 U.S. dollars), he said. He described second- and third-tier cities as those with an annual GDP per capita of 50,000 yuan and less than 30,000 yuan, respectively.

Green said the research indicates that if second-tier cities reach first-tier GDP levels, the economy will maintain an annual growth rate of at least 7 percent for the next five years.

However, Green said it will be difficult for the economy to maintain 8-percent growth in the second quarter, citing recently issued weak economic data. He added that the bank will lower its expectations for China's growth rate and consumer price index (CPI) this year.

He said interest rate hikes will likely occur in 2014.

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