The mainland's economic growth is likely to come in at 7.6 per cent this year, according to a cabinet report cited by Xinhua, just above the government's target of 7.5 per cent and slightly below last year's 7.7 per cent.
Xu Shaoshi, head of the mainland's top economic planning body, told lawmakers in a briefing on the report that uncertainties remain in the global economic recovery, and the international market has failed to produce strong demand, Xinhua said late on Wednesday. Domestically, higher labour and environmental costs for enterprises pose challenges, he added.
"We cannot deny a downward pressure on economic growth," Xinhua quoted Xu as saying. Xu is head of the National Development and Reform Commission.
The forecast is in line with analysts' predictions of about 7.6 to 7.7 per cent this year, but still puts mainland growth near the weakest pace since the Asian 1997-98 financial crisis.
Stability rather than fast growth remains the watchword as President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang seek to push through sweeping plans to restructure the mainland's economy so it is driven by consumption and services rather than exports and investment.
Economic data for November showed sustained momentum from a mid-year pick-up into the final quarter, indicating the economy was on track to reach this year's official growth target.
Sources at top government think tanks said that for next year, the mainland will likely use the same 7.5 per cent growth target it set for this year.
The cabinet report also said that the mainland will further enhance interest-rate flexibility and co-ordination on using various policies, including for fiscal, monetary, industrial, land use and environmental ones, Xinhua said.
The government will carefully deal with the issue of local government debt while ensuring reasonable needs for liquidity, the report said.
Official figures for fourth-quarter and 2013 gross domestic product will be announced next month.