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Experts: Positive signs in property, manufacturing

China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-21 09:02

Editor's Note: China's gross domestic product expanded at a rate of 6.9 percent in the first half of this year. In a series of interviews, China Daily asked economists, analysts and business leaders about the prospects for economic growth in the country.

Q1: What are the most encouraging signs in the Chinese economy in the first half of 2017? What impressed you the most about the macroeconomic data currently available?

Q2: Based on your research or business operations, what are your comments and projections regarding the Chinese economy's growth prospects in the second half of this year?

Q3: What will be the most supportive factors bolstering China's growth this year? What are the most severe challenges currently facing the Chinese economy?

Q4: What are your suggestions regarding how China can achieve stable, balanced and sustainable economic growth in the years ahead?

Zhang Zhiwei, chief China economist at Deutsche Bank

A1: The most important signal is the rebound in the property sector. This strong performance in the property market is consistent with the signals we noticed in the land market. In particular land auctions in third-tier cities rose strongly in June. It seems market expectations for property and land became more optimistic in June.

There are clear signals that the authorities are taking measures to support financial stability and further enhance regulation coordination. The government aims to effectively manage financial risks without sacrificing growth. So far this year the government has indeed managed to deleverage the financial sector without damaging the economy. The government recognized the risk of high leverage in the financial sector and took action to address such risks. We noticed the banking sector cut credit to non-bank financial institutions. This tightening of financial regulation is necessary to maintain financial stability.

A2: Based on a matrix of key indicators, we expect GDP growth of 6.6 percent in the third quarter and 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter. With the economy doing well and the property sector rebounding, we think there is no urgency for the monetary policy stance to be loosened in the second half of this year. Investment growth is likely to slow a bit. But we believe the slowdown will be gradual. Credit growth in the financial sector slowed sharply, but credit growth to the real economy remains strong.

A3: Economic growth may remain resilient. In particular, the rebound in the property sector plays a critical role in the growth cycle. It helps the economy through the fiscal channel, as local government revenue from land sales improves.

While the property market has been resilient, exports also performed well with help from strong global demand. In the second half of 2017, the challenge is to avoid relying too much on the housing market and develop a more sustainable strategy for the housing market.

A4: Structural reforms are critically important to achieve a more sustainable growth model. With an aging population, China needs to come up with a higher productivity growth. This can only be achieved through structural reforms, particularly in the service sector. There is still a lot of potential to be utilized, as a large part of the service sector remains protected with high entry barriers to private investment.

The financial sector will further unleash potential for economic growth as well. The government could further open up the financial sector to foreign investors, allow domestic investors to diversify asset allocation globally, and promote renminbi internationalization.

Aidan Yao, senior emerging Asia economist at AXA Investment Managers

A1: Manufacturing investment rose 5.6 percent in May, recouping some of its lost momentum in April. In addition, retail sales expanded 10.7 percent in the same month.

In May, fixed asset investment growth declined to 8.6 percent from 8.9 percent in April. Industrial production grew 6.7 percent year-on-year, unchanged from April.

A2: The Chinese economy has remained steady after losing some stream in the first quarter. Industrial sectors weakened further due to softening growth in infrastructure and property investment. Manufacturing investment has picked up the slack, with robust consumer spending and exports also providing an offset.

We expect a gradual economic slowdown in the second half of 2017, thanks to policy tightening in the housing market and the financial system.

A3: As far as potential risks are concerned, we have highlighted, for a while, renewed renminbi depreciation, capital outflows and commodity price declines.

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