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Tue, Jan 10, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Beijing revises GDP growth figures upward

ADJUSTMENT China raised its growth figures for 2003 and 2004, reflecting a revision of GDP statistics back to the last census on the service segment in 1993


China announced yesterday a further revision of economic data following a major upgrade last month, with the new figures showing the booming country grew even faster than first thought in 2003 and 2004.

After last month's statement that the size of China's economy had been underestimated by 17 percent or US$284 billion in 2004, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revised up GDP growth in 2004 from 9.5 percent to 10.1 percent.

Growth in 2003 was also revised to 10 percent, up from 9.5 percent.

Between 1993 and 2004, China's economy expanded at an average rate of 9.9 percent, up from the 9.4 percent given in previously reported figures.

Last month, the government said that after a new survey, China's economy was worth nearly 16 trillion yuan (US$1.98 trillion) in 2004.

That revision was largely due to earlier miscalculations in the size of the service and private sectors, which had traditionally been seen as "grey areas" in China's statistics gathering methods.

Those new official numbers lifted China past Italy to become the world's sixth largest economy, with last year's figures, due out this month, tipped to catapult the Asian giant to fourth on the list.

Yesterday's data reflected a revision of China's GDP statistics back to 1993, the last time an economic census on the service industry was taken, the NBS said.

"In order to maintain the historical comparison of the GDP, and in accordance with international practices, the NBS has revised the historical GDP numbers from before 2004," it said.

JP Morgan economist Frank Gong (龔方雄) said the bureau's announcement was simply a recalculation so growth numbers were consistent with the December figures on the size of the economy.

"The year-on-year figures are now just matching that first revision," Gong said. "[Previously] each year they've omitted a certain chunk of economic growth."

China's massive cash economy, especially in its services sector, will nonetheless remain difficult to quantify, according to Gong.

Gong said he expected the next economic census, to be held within five years, to be followed by a similar rash of revisions because of continuing problems in obtaining data on so many unofficial transactions.

"[The latest changes] may have captured most of the missing part but some of it may still be there," he said.

Western economists who track China's economy have long expressed doubts about the accuracy of the country's statistics.

However, they have maintained that although the precise numbers might be wrong, the trends that the numbers reveal are usually accurate.

With last year's economic data due out soon, China is likely to officially overtake France and Britain to become the world's fourth largest economy behind the US, Japan and Germany.

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