Economic Trends/Outlook in China

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Economic Overview

The global recession interrupted China’s dynamic of continuous growth. Chinese economy however showed itself very resilient to the crisis and its economic recovery surprised the observers by both its rapidity and its vigor. After the euphoria of the recovery, the GDP growth slowed down during the first two quarters of 2010, especially as an effect of the austerity measures adopted by the government in the field of bank lending, real estate and currency exchange. Since then, there has nonetheless been a resumption of more dynamic growth which should continue in 2011. For 2010, economic growth is estimated at 10.5%.

Chinese economy is driven by investment and domestic consumption, which is itself boosted by the increase in salaries and the new housing policy. In order to avoid the overheating of the economy, the government has announced new measures to fight inflation and to stabilize prices of basic agricultural commodities. Among Beijing’s priorities are also: infrastructure, industry modernization, opening the country to new technologies, healthcare, education and support for the countryside.

A large gap remains between the living standard of the cities and the countryside, between urban zones on the Chinese coast and the interior and western parts of the country, as well as between the urban middle classes and those who have not been able to profit from the growth. These inequalities are becoming increasingly worrisome for both the Chinese authorities and the investors. Although poverty has largely decreased in China, almost 10% of the population, i.e. more than 120 million people, continue to live on less than 1 USD a day.

Main Indicators 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
GDP (billions USD) 4,990.53 5,878.26e 6,515.86e 7,209.42e 8,057.41e
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 9.2 10.3e 9.6e 9.5e 9.5e
GDP per Capita (USD) 3,739 4,382e 4,833e 5,321e 5,917e
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -3.4 -2.9e -1.8e -1.1e -0.5e
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 17.7 17.7e 17.1e 16.3e 15.0e
Inflation Rate (%) -0.7 3.3e 5.0e 2.5e 2.0e
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labor Force) 4.3 4.1e 4.0e 4.0e 4.0e
Current Account (billions USD) 283.76e 334.70e 390.98e 461.02e -
Current Account (in % of GDP) 5.8e 6.2e 6.5e 6.9e -

Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database

Note: (e) Estimated Data


Main Sectors of Industry

China has a highly diversified economy, dominated by the manufacturing and agricultural sectors.

The agricultural sector employs almost 40% of the active population and contributes up to about 10% to the GDP, although only 15% of the Chinese soil (about 1.2 M km ²) is arable. China is the most populated country in the world and one of the largest producers and consumers of agricultural produce. China is the leading global producer of cereals, rice, cotton, potatoes and tea. In terms of livestock, it also dominates sheep and pork livestock farming and the world’s production of fish products.

The mining sector occupies an important place in the Chinese economy, since the country’s subsoil is rich in energetic resources. China has significant coal reserves (the country's primary energy source), which account for two-thirds of the total primary energy consumption. It is the world leader in the production of certain ores (phosphate and titanium) and also has significant petrol and natural gas reserves. It is the world’s fifth biggest oil producer with 3.8 million barrels a year.

The industry and the construction sectors contribute approximately half of China's GDP. China has become one of the preferred destinations for the relocation of global manufacturing units because of a cheap labor market, even though the cost of labor has been increasing. China’s economic development has coincided primarily with the development of a competitive and outward-oriented manufacturing sector. More than half of the Chinese exports are made by companies with foreign capital. Their share in the sector's added-value varies according to the sector: more than 60% for electronics and less than 20% for the majority of producer goods. The Government sector still contributes approximately 40% to the GDP.

The services sector has not progressed, encumbered by public monopolies and restrictive regulations. The tertiary sector's share has remained at nearly a third of the GDP in the last 15 years.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 44.1 17.7 16.1
Value Added (in % of GDP) 10.3 46.3 43.4
Value Added (Annual % Change) 4.2 9.9 9.3

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

For more detailed background on Industries in China, click here.

Indicator of Economic Freedom

Mostly unfree
World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Distribution of Economic freedom in the world
Source: 2011 Index of Economic freedom, Heritage Foundation


Country Risk

See the Country Risk Analysis Provided By Ducroire.


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