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China GDP to grow by 8.3% in 2009, says CASS
By Zhang Ran (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-04-23 07:46

The Chinese economy is projected to grow 8.3 percent this year, according to a report released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

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"Since there is a decline in exports, economic growth will mainly depend on consumption and investment. We expect consumption to contribute 4.3 percentage points to GDP growth, while investment may contribute 2 percentage points," CASS said.

CASS economists said total investment in fixed assets, a key requirement for an 8 percent growth target, was likely to range between 21 and 23 trillion yuan.

Growth in exports and imports, however, may remain negative the whole year, the report warned.

Exports growth may fall by 2.4 percent and imports would decline by 3 percent, it forecast. The total trade surplus for the year was likely to touch $280 billion, CASS said.

The Academy said the consumer price index (CPI) might rise by only 0.8 percent for the year, a significant decline from the earlier forecast of 4.3 percent.

Retail sales may touch 12.5 trillion yuan, an increase of 14 percent year on year, it said. This is 1.6 percentage points higher than CASS' earlier forecast.

The CASS report has suggested that China should improve domestic consumption in three spheres - rural areas, real estate and infrastructure.

"The government should cut taxes on companies and individuals to increase income in order to boost individual consumption," Cai Fang, director of the Institute of Population and Labor Economics in the CASS, said.

Meanwhile, a Standard Chartered Bank report on Tuesdaypredicted a lower GDP growth for China in 2009. The bank said its GDP forecast for the country would remain unchanged, at 6.8 percent for the year.

"China's economy seems to have bounced back in March, thanks to infrastructure spending. However, we wonder about the sustainability of this rebound," it said.

"China's economy is investment-dominated. In 2008, investment accounted for 43 percent of all spending, measured from the expenditure side of the national accounts. Consumption accounted for 36 percent, and looks to remain at about this level over the next few years," Stephen Green, the banks' head of research said.

Earlier, UBS had upgraded China's 2009 GDP growth forecast to between 7 and 7.5 percent on very strong stimulus-related bank lending growth.

"The government's attempt to boost consumption relative to investment and exports is a long-term project. It will depend on bringing incomes up to rich-world levels and completing the social welfare system, and neither is likely to happen in the short term.

In the short term, the stimulus package looks set to boost investment," Green said.