China trims 2017 GDP growth rate just before 2018 pace unveiled

Monday, 21 January 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A worker adjusts a cover on the back of a truck outside a warehouse of Yonghui Superstores in Chongqing, China October 9, 2018 - REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters): China’s statistics bureau on Friday revised down its final 2017 gross domestic product (GDP) growth to 6.8% from 6.9%, after scaling back initial estimates of the industrial and services sector.

The National Bureau of Statistics revised the final 2017 GDP to 82.08 trillion yuan ($12.11 trillion), down 636.7 billion yuan from the preliminary number.

The revision came ahead of Monday’s release of preliminary GDP growth figures for the latest quarter and full-year 2018.

Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, said of the 2017 revision “it’s only because GDP figures are so stable (in China) that it actually seems like a big deal. But I don’t think it really changes anything.”

Evans-Pritchard said the trim suggests” greater tolerance to publish lower growth figures”, which indicates China is “probably willing to not loosen policy quite aggressively, as they are willing to tolerate slower growth.”

Analysts expect Beijing to roll out more stimulus measures to shore up sliding growth but Chinese authorities have repeatedly said the government won’t resort to massive stimulus.

Sources have told Reuters that China plans to set a lower economic growth target of 6-6.5% in 2019.

Final 2017 data shows the secondary sector - manufacturing and construction that account for 40% of GDP - grew 5.9% in 2017 to 33.3 trillion yuan. That compared with the bureau’s initial estimate of a 6.1% increase.

Growth in information technology services, the fastest growing sector in 2017, was revised down 4.2%age points to 21.8%, with output totalling 2.64 trillion yuan.

Growth estimates for construction, financial and leasing sectors were all revised lower.

The latest Reuters poll has forecast full-year growth of 6.6% for 2018 and 6.3% this year.