Chinese Minister of Finance Lou Jiwei (樓繼偉) has said he expects the nation’s economy to grow seven percent this year, raising questions about whether it can achieve the official 7.5 percent target set four months ago.
“Our expected GDP growth rate this year is seven percent,” Lou told reporters on the sidelines of an annual strategic and economic dialogue between China and the US in Washington on Thursday.
“Of course, it won’t be a big problem for us if we achieve growth of seven percent or 6.5 percent,” he said.
His comments come as growth in the Asian powerhouse — the second-largest economy in the world — shows signs of slowing down and could indicate its leaders are prepared to tolerate much weaker expansion.
China’s official 7.5 percent growth target was announced at a Communist Party parliamentary meeting in March. The goal is normally declared conservatively, so that it is regularly exceeded in practice.
However, Lou’s remarks come as worries mount over China’s growth prospects following a slew of weak data on manufacturing and exports.
China is due to announce GDP figures for the second quarter on Monday. The median forecast in a survey of 10 economists by AFP was for GDP growth of 7.5 percent.
The median figure is a further deceleration from the already slowing 7.7 percent recorded in the first three months, as concerns mount over the Asian powerhouse.
“One point for sure is that the second-quarter growth will definitely be lower than the first,” said Yao Wei (姚煒), economist at Societe Generale in Hong Kong, citing weakness in manufacturing as a result of poor domestic and foreign demand.
“Generally if manufacturing growth declines, macro-economic growth will slow down as well,” she said.