China's economy weakened to its slowest pace in three decades in 2019 as weaker domestic demand amid a bruising trade war with the United States took their toll, official data showed on Friday (Jan 17).
Any more weakness, or signs of recovery, could affect the pace and scope of further stimulus measures expected from Beijing this year.
China's job market remained stable in 2019, with all related indicators meeting the annual goals, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Friday.
There is a sense of relief among the officials here as the official growth rate remained above the psychologically important 6 per cent as mandated by Chinese President Xi Jinping who in the past directed that GDP should not go down below six per cent, which could cause serious disruption to the world's second largest economy. And December industrial output, investment and retail sales all rose more than expected after an improved showing in November.
The new GDP data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) comes a day after China and the USA signed a long-awaited phase one deal, marking a ceasefire in the 18-month trade war which saw the world's two largest economies slap 25 per cent tariffs on about half a trillion-dollar worth of each other's exports. The signing of the phase-one trade deal with the US this week combined with recovering global demand has improved the outlook for Chinese factories and exporters in 2020, though uncertain implementation of that deal and domestic financial fragility remain risks.
In 2007, the Chinese economy grew by a blistering 14%.
Other Chinese economic data released alongside the GDP numbers showed growth in industrial output and retail sales for the month of December. Fixed-asset investment rose 5.4 percent for the full year, but growth had plumbed record lows in autumn.
Exports for the year totaled $2.498 trillion, up 0.5% - much slower growth than in 2018, largely due to a drop in shipments to the U.S.
The growth rate was higher than that in the first 11 months of 2019, the data said.
The 0.5 percentage point decline in the growth rate from the previous year is the biggest since a 1.7 point year-on-year slowdown in 2012.
China will roll out more support measures this year as the economy faces further pressure, Ning Jizhe, head of the Statistical bureau told a news conference.
Beijing has been relying on a mix of fiscal and monetary steps to weather the current downturn, cutting taxes and allowing local governments to sell huge amounts of bonds to fund infrastructure projects.
But Chinese leaders have repeatedly pledged they will not embark on massive stimulus like that during the 2008-09 global crisis, which quickly juiced growth rates but left a mountain of debt.