Economist: Slowing US economy may drag down China's GDP
Updated: 2008-04-14 10:03

If the US economic slowdown sustains for one year, it could drag down China's gross domestic product (GDP) by 1 percent, said a Chinese economist on Sunday.

Fan Gang, a Monetary Policy Committee member of the People's Bank of China, the central bank, said the US subprime mortgage crisis affected the Chinese economy mainly through trade and investment, Fan said at the 2008 annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia, which concluded in China's southern Hainan Province Sunday.

Historical figures revealed a 1 percentage point slide in the US economy would lead to 5 to 6 percentage points decline in China's exports to the United States.

China's slower exports, however, were largely due to the government's export policy shift, not the credit crunch, Fan said.

Weak dollar and continuous US interest rate cuts had raised people's expectation of a stronger yuan, and triggered a hefty inflow of overseas funds to China.

The subprime mortgage product itself was not to blame, he noted, pointing to the poor risk management as the culprit.

He said people should also look at the bright side of the coin as imports from the affected economies would eventually rebound as long as they enjoyed a steady growth.

Of the $180 billion increase of China's foreign reserves in the first two months, a hefty $150 billion came from the overseas funds inflow, he said.

The massive funds could push up domestic prices and contribute to the economy as well. He added emerging markets would continue to vie for foreign investment for a long period of time.

Fan stressed the prevention of a financial crisis should top the government's macro-economic policy, saying a drastic Renminbi appreciation could give rise to a crisis; a preemptive self-regulation was the best way to avert it.

Chinese exporters couldn't afford a one-off appreciation that could trigger drastic order losses, and the moderate pace could offer them room for a cushion from the negative impact, he said.

The euro had appreciated faster than the yuan, resulting in the latter's depreciation against other currencies, including the euro and the Japanese yen, Fan said.

That would cause more imbalances with other trading partners of China, such as the EU and Japan. Therefore, it was up to the pace of the dollar's depreciation to decide the balanced pace for the yuan's appreciation, he said.

Established in 2001, the Boao Forum for Asia has become a major platform for discussion and debate on economic development in Asia. The theme of this year's annual conference of the forum is "Green Asia: moving towards win-win through changes".

(For more biz stories, please visit Industries)