Chinese economic growth tanks to three-decade low

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Beijing, Jan 21 (IANS) China’s economy grew at its slowest pace in almost three decades last year, with the world’s second largest economy logging a growth of 6.6 per cent in 2018.

After witnessing a sizzling double-digit growth for three decades, the Chinese economy has been on a downturn over the years as the country deals with bad debts and a decline in exports.

The bruising trade war with the US seemed to have proved another drag on the slowing Chinese economy.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said the economic growth of 6.6 per cent in 2018 was above the official target of 6.5 per cent.

Growth in the fourth quarter came in at 6.4 per cent, down from 6.5 per cent seen in the third quarter, the NBS data showed.

The country’s economy has performed within a reasonable range in 2018, with economic growth being generally stable and improvement achieved in performance, said NBS head Ning Jizhe at a press conference.

Ning said that China may face a more complicated and tough external environment for development in 2019, but the country has the foundation, condition, confidence and capability to keep economic growth within a reasonable range, ensuring sustained and healthy economic development.

The slowdown in the world’s second largest economy is the cause for worry for global growth.

Its total exports fell to $221.25 billion in December, down by 1.4 per cent from November and 4.4 per cent from the same month in 2017.

Among others, car sales in China — the world’s biggest automobile market — fell for the first time in 20 years.

The Chinese government this month announced $193 to prop up the economy which will include tax cuts for small business and tariff reduction.

However, Beijing’s biggest concern might be its ongoing trade dispute with Washington.

Both countries are currently in truce till March 1 in the row triggered by US President Donald Trump over the alleged sordid business practices by China.

Both sides are engaged in hectic talks to find a solution before the March 1 deadline after which Washington’s planned levies on $200 billion of Chinese goods will kick in.

Beijing’s top trade negotiator Liu He will travel to Washington from January 30-31 to hold talks with his US counterpart Robert Lighthizer to iron out their trade differences.

Last year, both sides slapped tariffs worth millions on each other’s goods.

Trump accuses China of arm-twisting American companies to transfer technology to their Chinese counterparts and ballooning trade deficit. Beijing denies these charges and accuses Washington of containing it.

(Gaurav Sharma can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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