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China may power a quarter of global GDP by 2030

By Jérôme Haegeli | | Updated: 2019-03-24 13:19
A technician works on the production line of an energy equipment manufacturer in Nantong, Jiangsu province. XU CONGJUN/FOR CHINA DAILY

With China’s annual two sessions coming to an end, it is evident that the Chinese government is in pursuit of stable economic growth in 2019. After sustaining strong growth for more than two decades, the Chinese economy is now affected by trade disputes and the global economic slowdown. No wonder the government is calling for a cautious approach while continuing its efforts to transition the economy from an investment-driven model to one of consumption, services and innovation. These are positive steps, not just for China but also for the global economy.

While the uncertainties of the global economy are here to stay, emerging markets are expected to bring a silver lining and will remain the engine for global growth in the next decade. And as part of that, the shift of power from west to east is likely to continue. Our latest Sigma study forecasts that emerging markets will contribute 60 percent of global growth in 2028, and China alone will count for more than 25 percent.

Some may argue that emerging market growth has moderated in recent years. This is only natural as economies mature and become more exposed to external cyclical factors. In China, while the country’s GDP growth target may have lowered to 6-6.5 percent, this still puts China on a fast track compared with many parts of the world.

Quality of growth becomes the differentiating factor in emerging markets

Irrespective of moderation, we still see a strong 3.5 percent, five-year-ahead growth differential between emerging and advanced markets. Thus we see an ongoing transfer of economic power from west to east. In the future, quality rather than speed of growth will be a determining factor among emerging markets themselves.

China is a primary example of this, with its current transition from a primary resource producer to being a producer in the secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy. The transition is bound to be non-linear and will inevitably carry inherent difficulties. Continuous supply-side reforms to address structural issues such as overcapacity, excess housing inventory and high leverage are therefore crucial. Also high on the Chinese government’s agenda is identifying new growth engines, promoting national competitiveness through innovation, industrial upgrading and further opening-up for sustaining high-quality growth.

While the challenges facing China’s economy for the next decade are substantial, the government’s preferred approach of gradualism and cautious and prudent policies can alleviate the stress. We forecast China will continue to power the global economy with an annual growth rate of around five percent over the next decade.

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