China GDP Growth Rate Slows to 6.1% in 2019

China's economy is "under pressure from weak consumer spending, rising unemployment and problems in the financial system."
Matthew HellerJanuary 21, 2020

China’s economy grew at the slowest rate in 30 years in 2019 amid weak domestic demand and the trade conflict with the U.S.

Gross domestic product increased 6.1%, matching analysts’ expectations but well below the 6.6% gain in 2018. Growth last year was the slowest since 1990.

For the fourth quarter, GDP grew 6.0%, with several indicators including industrial production and fixed-asset investment showing that activity picked up late in 2019.

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The numbers reveal “an economy under pressure from weak consumer spending, rising unemployment and problems in the financial system,” The Financial Times said.

“The question looming over the world’s second-largest economy in 2020 is whether the damage of the trade dispute [with the U.S.] has largely run its course or, as some experts fear, domestic troubles in banking, manufacturing and property have yet to take full effect,” it added.

President Donald Trump signed a “phase one” trade deal with China last week, at least temporarily easing the tensions that had built up over the past two years.

Tom Rafferty, principal China economist at The Economist Intelligence Unit, said he expected China’s growth to hold around 6% through 2020 as Beijing continues to stimulate the economy.

“While businesses and investors can afford to breath a sign of relief, after a difficult 2019, we still see risks to the China outlook as mainly weighted to the downside, given the fragile nature of the trade truce and the risks that still stalk China’s financial markets,” Rafferty added.

But Forbes argued that concerns over China’s economy are overblown, noting that the trade war has had only a “marginal impact” as China “has been able to export a lot more to other countries, especially Europe and ASEAN, which has almost fully compensated for the fall in exports to the U.S.”

“This in turn suggests that many Chinese companies are sufficiently agile and competitive to win sales in new markets in a tough global economic environment,” Forbes said.

Fitch Ratings last week raised its economic growth forecast for China this year to 5.9% from 5.7%.