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Economic growth expected to slow down
By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-25 23:52

China's economic growth is expected to slow over the next 18 months as the pace of fixed investment falls, a UN report said yesterday.

A cashier counts notes with machine in a bank in Jiangsu Province, April 25, 2005. [newsphoto]  

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific annual report also noted rising oil prices and the tsunami disaster had undermined some Asian economies.

The report predicted China will register an annual economic growth rate of 8.5 per cent this year, lower than last year's 9.5 per cent, slowing to 7.8 per cent in 2006.

The commission concluded that the economic slowdown in China will also affect the speed of economic development in the rest of the region.

"A gradual slowdown is very necessary for China because we have faced many, many challenges," Wang Huijiong, vice-chairman of the Academic Commission of the State Council Development and Research Centre, told China Daily.

Wang was also authorized by the UN organization to deliver the report.

China's economic growth for the first quarter of this year was 9.5 per cent, higher than the government's goal of 8 per cent.

Wang said the biggest challenge facing China's economic development is over hasty investment in the fixed asset market in the past several years.

"We must slow down our pace; otherwise, our growth cannot be sustained because of strains on resources and inflation pressures," said Wang.

The report said China's economy has played a major role in driving sustained growth in the Asia-Pacific region with a GDP growth rate of 8.2 per cent a year on average between 1998-2004.

In the foreword to the report, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the fast pace of economic growth for countries in the Asia-Pacific region was driven by resilient exports and domestic demand.

"The prospects this year have been undermined in the affected countries by the tsunami disaster and other factors," said Annan.

The UN organization forecasts that the region as a whole will achieve 6.2 per cent economic growth this year, down from last year's 7.2 per cent.

Looking to the long term, the organization warned that many countries in the region should pay close attention to the problems of an ageing population.

By 2050 about 23.5 per cent of people living in the region will be aged 60 or above.

Worldwide the average ageing rate is 21.1 per cent.

China, however, will have an ageing rate as high as 29.9 per cent by the middle of this century.

"China's challenge of ageing is the biggest in the world," said Wang, urging the Chinese Government to take efficient measures to cushion pressures brought about by its ageing society.

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