China’s economy expanded at its slowest rate in nearly three decades in the third quarter, hit by cooling domestic demand and a protracted US trade dispute, official data showed yesterday.
The Chinese economy grew 6.0 percent in the third quarter compared with 6.2 percent in the second, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said.
The reading — in line with a survey of 13 analysts — is the worst quarterly figure since 1992, but within Beijing’s target range of 6.0 to 6.5 percent for the whole year.
The Chinese economy grew 6.6 percent last year.
“The national economy maintained overall stability in the first three quarters,” bureau spokesman Mao Shengyong (毛盛勇) said. “However, we must be aware that given the complicated and severe economic conditions both at home and abroad, slowing global economic growth, and increasing external instabilities and uncertainties, the economy is under mounting downward pressure.”
Services and high-tech manufacturing were the key areas of growth, while employment was “generally stable,” he said.
Beijing has stepped up support for the economy with major tax and interest rate cuts, and has scrapped foreign investment restrictions on its stock markets, but the efforts have not been enough to offset the blow from softening demand at home.
The long-running trade dispute with the US has also chipped away at the economy.
China this week reported weaker-than-expected import and export figures for last month after Washington imposed new tariffs, triggering a tit-for-tat response from Beijing.
There were mixed signals for the economy last month.
Industrial output rose 5.8 percent, from 4.4 percent in August, led by a surge in demand for solar panels and electric vehicles, the bureau said, but growth in fixed-asset investment slid to 5.4 percent year-on-year in the first nine months from 5.5 percent in the first eight months, as the government warned against risky borrowing to build roads and bridges that could artificially pump up GDP in the short term.
China’s consumers were slowly starting to open their wallets again, with retail sales last month up 7.8 percent year-on-year, compared with 7.5 percent in August.
A “phase one” deal announced by US President Donald Trump on Friday last week after he met with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (劉鶴) in Washington offers a temporary reprieve from further tariff increases, but it did not roll back any of the stinging tariffs already imposed on hundreds of billions of dollars of trade between the economic powers, nor did it address another round of import taxes planned for December.
“A limited agreement will not resolve the underlying areas of disagreement between the two sides as long-term divergence in US and China national interest remains across trade, technology, investment and geopolitics,” Moody’s Investors Service managing director Michael Taylor said. “We expect further rounds of negotiation to remain challenging, with further potential for financial markets volatility.”
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