Economist: China targets 8% growth in 2007

Updated: 2006-12-06 14:37

China's leaders have fixed a target for economic growth in 2007 of around 8 percent as part of plans made during their annual Central Economic Work Conference, a top government economist said on Wednesday.

However, Zheng Xinli, an economist for the ruling Communist Party's policy research office, said that the goal -- compared with 10.7 percent annual growth in the first nine months of this year -- did not forebode a serious slowdown next year.

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"The central government set the target of around 8 percent because it cannot set a very high target. If the target were 10, then the actual growth could be 12 percent," Zheng, who attended the conference, told reporters.

A government source said earlier this week that the closed-door meeting was likely to aim for 9.3 percent growth next year.

Zheng said he personally still expected growth of around 10 percent in 2007, and that he and other government economists were forecasting full-year growth for 2006 to come in at 10.5 percent.

He said the central authorities had stressed during the meeting that China needed to stick to a stable monetary and fiscal policy, and avoid tightening monetary conditions too much.

Beijing had also urged local governments to focus their investment more on the services sector and other industries that would spur consumption, and less on those that are highly polluting or consume large amounts of energy.

The government has been striving for some time now for greater energy efficiency as part of a shift in China's growth model away from exports and investment and towards consumption.

The 8 percent target was the same as the one announced for 2006 at the annual session of parliament in March, but the strong growth in the first three quarters puts the economy firmly on course to log full-year growth in double digits for the fourth year in a row.

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