China's economy on track for 7.5pc gain, says NDRC planner Zhang Ping
Shrinking demand for exports has cut growth in the last three quarters, says top planner Zhang Ping. But the latest data is cause for optimism
The central government is confident of achieving its 7.5 per cent economic-growth target this year despite the recent slowdown, its top economic planner said yesterday.
"Signs of stabilisation in the economy were getting more obvious in October," said Zhang Ping, the minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). "We are fully confident that we are able to maintain economic growth of above 7.5 per cent."
Zhang's remarks at a press conference on the sidelines of the 18th party congress followed the release of a raft of economic data in October showing signs of a rebound in the economy after seven straight quarters of slowing growth.
Gross domestic product growth slowed to 7.4 per cent year on year in the third quarter, its slowest rate in 14 quarters.
The central government set a moderate GDP growth target of 7.5 per cent for the current year, after two-digit annual growth for most of the past three decades. It was the first time in eight years that growth below 8 per cent was forecast.
Zhang said the slowdown in the first nine months was due to a combination of factors, including the government's macroeconomic restructuring policy and declining external demand amid the global financial crisis.
The government had launched a fine-tuning of its policy regime and adopted targeted measures to stabilise the economy since seeing a further slowdown in the first half of the year, Zhang said.
Zhang cited data issued on Friday and yesterday as evidence that the government's measures had helped stabilise the situation and improve the country's outlook.
Industrial added-value output growth accelerated to 9.6 per cent year on year last month, from 9.2 per cent in September and 8.6 per cent in August, according to the latest figures from the National Bureau of Statistics.
Retail sales of consumer goods rose 14.5 per cent from a year ago, compared with 14.1 per cent in September and 13.2 per cent in August.
Zhang said China must maintain an appropriate pace of economic growth as the world's most populous nation. He cautioned against complacency and said that external economic risks continued to loom large.
"The foundation of the economic rebound is not solid enough," Zhang said. "And we must be prepared for dealing with difficulties and challenges over the long term."
Zhang said the government had now put more emphasis on stabilising growth against the backdrop of continued global uncertainty.
Since late last year, the central bank has cut benchmark interest rates twice, lowered bank reserve ratios three times and injected large-scale liquidity into the financial system to help the struggling economy.
The NDRC has also sped up its approvals of infrastructure projects worth more than 1 trillion yuan (HK$1.23 trillion) since September.