Despite contraction, China could still grow this year

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Even as China reels from the shock, the country could still end the year with a growing economy.

The International Monetary Fund earlier this week predicted that China’s economy will grow 1.2% in 2020 before jumping 9.2% next year — making it the best performer among major economies.

That annual growth could come even as much of the rest of the world shrinks. The IMF expects the global economy to contract by 3% this year as it slumps into its worst recession this year since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Chinese officials seem wary of making predictions, though. While Beijing has set an annual GDP target every year since 1985, it has not yet done so for 2020. Asked whether the government could still set one this year, Mao Shengyong, spokesman for China’s National Bureau of Statistics, said Friday he was not certain.

Even so, Chinese authorities on Friday were optimistic about the country’s prospects, pointing specifically to the recent IMF forecast. If the IMF’s predictions come true, China would average growth of 5% over the next two years, Mao said.

“The coronavirus has caused China economic losses and activity has been suppressed,” he said. “[But] it may be unleashed next year.”

Analysts also expect a faster recovery in China than elsewhere, bolstering its position in the world economy and continuing to close the gap with the West in terms of income and GDP per person.

“It will rebound quicker than Western economies to reach a larger share of the global economy,” said Sebastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Investment.

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