Economists express confidence in growth this year

By Ouyang Shijia, Liu Zhihua and Zhou Lanxu (China Daily) 08:47, March 01, 2024

An employee of an engineering equipment manufacturer in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, works on Thursday at the company's production line. YANG BO / CHINA NEWS SERVICE

China's economy has sustained robust growth despite uncertainties and challenges on the domestic and international fronts, in stark contrast with the situations in some other major economies, according to analysts.

They dismissed speculation that China's economy would face rough weather in the coming months, saying that recovery is set to continue this year with anticipated improvement in consumption and investment, given the economy's strong resilience and vitality.

Looking ahead, they said that expanding demand and fostering new growth drivers will be among key priorities for this year's economic work. They also predicted that the country will likely set its annual GDP growth target at around 5 percent during the upcoming two sessions, the gatherings in Beijing of the nation's top legislative and political advisory bodies.

"China's economy expanded by 5.2 percent in 2023, significantly higher than that of the United States at 2.5 percent, the eurozone with 0.5 percent, and Japan at 1.9 percent," said Sheng Laiyun, deputy head of the National Bureau of Statistics.

He said in a statement released on the NBS website on Thursday that China is projected to contribute more than 30 percent of global economic growth, remaining a primary engine driving global growth.

Zhang Yuxian, director of the Department of Economic Forecasting at the State Information Center, said he believes that China's economy will make a good start this year, estimating that the economy will grow steadily in the first quarter with stimulus policy measures taking effect gradually.

Although the broader economy is still facing challenges from the lack of demand and a complicated external environment, he said, "The momentum of China's economic recovery is poised to undergo further consolidation in 2024, propelled by robust policy support, the advancement of industrial transformation and upgrading, and the continuous deepening of reforms."

Tian Xuan, associate dean of Tsinghua University's PBC School of Finance, said he forecasts that the annual GDP target, to be announced during the two sessions, and the final growth rate of the country will be around 5 percent, indicating better economic performance this year than in 2023.

Tian highlighted the necessity of managing the relationship between the growth of new and traditional economic drivers during the process of economic structural transformation, as the tone-setting annual Central Economic Work Conference in December called for efforts to "establish the new before abolishing the old".

More efforts should be made to drive the upgrading of some traditional sectors and foster new productive forces, he said.

Ayhan Kose, the World Bank's deputy chief economist and director of the Prospects Group, said the challenge that China faces is to switch from investment- and export-driven growth to growth led by consumption and services.

"Strengthening consumer confidence in the short run and undertaking the types of reforms necessary to improve growth prospects in the long run are going to be critical," Kose said on Wednesday at a global prospects meeting held by the International Finance Forum.

The Central Economic Work Conference said efforts should be made to stimulate consumption and expand productive investment to create a virtuous cycle of mutual promotion between consumption and investment.

Ning Jizhe, vice-chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said the conference mapped out priorities for this year's economic work, especially in terms of boosting consumption.

Ning, who is also deputy director of the Committee on Economic Affairs of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said more efforts should be made to increase people's spending power, optimize the consumption environment and boost consumption of services.

Gary Rosen, CEO of Accor Greater China, said the French hospitality group is committed to the Chinese market, adding that China is expected to become the world's biggest tourism market by 2035.

"China plays a significant role for us as a company, and we will always be focused on growth here," he said. "As the economy grows … that opens the door for more companies around the world to have the opportunity to continue to or start to invest in and grow their business in China."

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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