China tops world with US$47tr in built assets

Spending on buildings and infrastructure looks set to continue in effort to boost growth

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 October, 2015, 12:59am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 October, 2015, 12:59am

China has the largest collection of built assets in the world, worth a total of US$47.6 trillion, overtaking the American total of US$36.8 trillion for the first time, according to a survey by natural-and-built-assets consultancy Arcadis.

As the central government's investment in built assets - buildings and infrastructure - can help support slowing economic growth, Beijing is expected to continue to lead the world in such spending.

China saw its gross domestic product grow 6.9 per cent year on year in the third quarter of this year, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday. That is down from growth of 7 per cent in the previous quarter, and the first time the rate of growth has fallen below 7 per cent since the global financial crisis in 2009.

In its latest Global Built Asset Wealth Index, based on a survey conducted every two years, Arcadis calculated the value of all the buildings and infrastructure that contribute to economic productivity in 32 countries this year, which collectively make up 87 per cent of global GDP. Total built-asset wealth in the world now stands at an estimated US$218 trillion.

Japan ranked third with built-asset stocks valued at US$18.24 trillion. India ranked fourth with US$15.24 trillion, while Germany was fifth with US$10.21 trillion.

Investment on built assets played a crucial role in a country's economic development, said Adam Sutton, head of Arcadis' Asia business advisory.

Since 2000, China has invested US$33 trillion in its built assets, a total that exceeds all other economies combined. China has been investing 9 per cent of GDP in its infrastructure, which dwarfs global competitors like the United States, which currently invests just 2 per cent.

"We believe that the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which aims to increase infrastructure development in Asia, will help China to continue to accelerate the lead over the US in the years to come," Sutton said.

China's heavily investment-dependent growth model means that by 2025, its built-asset stocks will be worth double those of the US, according to Arcadis.