While a 6.3 percent growth underscores the persistent downward pressure on the world’s second-largest economy, given domestic and global challenges, it also highlights the resilience of the Chinese economy in face of pressure from massive stimulus measures, analysts noted.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is scheduled to post second-quarter GDP data on July 15.
In the first quarter of 2019, China’s GDP grew by 6.4 percent year-on-year, surpassing grim expectations.
However, many expect that a combination of factors from China’s internal economic transition to a tariff war with the US to a slowing global economy could further drag down growth in China.
“Generally speaking, second-quarter GDP growth should be relatively stable, considering all the challenges, including declining domestic and global demands,” Liu Xuezhi, an economist at the Bank of Communications, told the Global Times on Thursday. He forecast a 6.3 percent growth for the first half of the year.
Several other analysts interviewed by the Global Times also put first-half GDP growth at around 6.3 percent. A Reuters poll also estimated second-quarter GDP growth at 6.2 percent, meaning first-half GDP growth would be at 6.3 percent.
That falls nicely into the 6 percent to 6.5 percent growth target range set by policymakers earlier this year. To meet that target, China has undertaken an array of stimulus measures, including administrative fees and tax cuts for companies that amount to 2 trillion yuan ($291.05 billion), increased spending in infrastructure and more financing for small and medium enterprises.
While these stimulus measures helped boost confidence in the economy during the first half, their actual effect on economic activities is expected to show mostly in the second half of the year, when GDP growth could improve, analysts said.
The improved confidence is highlighted by stabilizing investment and consumption, two main driving forces of the Chinese economy. In the first five months of the year, total retail sales rose 8.1 percent year-on-year to more than 16.13 trillion yuan, NBS data showed. Fixed-asset investment also grew 5.6 percent year-on-year during the period.
Several indicators also showed worse-than-expected risks in the first six months of the year, according to Tian Yun, vice president of the Beijing Economic Operation Association.
“Investment from private sectors is not up to expectations, infrastructure spending is still lagging and the expanded trade surplus resulting from a fall in imports is not something we expected,” he told the Global Times on Thursday.
In the first five months of the year, China saw a 45 percent year-on-year growth in trade surplus to 5.5 trillion yuan, with exports expanding 6.1 percent and imports rising 1.8 percent, according to the General Administration of Customs, which is slated to release data for the first half of the year on Friday.
That came as global trade is also showing signs of being in decline and stiff punitive tariffs were imposed on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods by the US. Amid growing pressure, the US has since pursued trade negotiations with China. Despite this, many in China say that though US officials have shown some gestures of goodwill, they have thus far refused to take meaningful actions to meet China halfway and end the trade war.
To fight further pressure on China’s trade, Chinese policymakers have determined several measures, including further cuts to import duties and export tax rebates and strengthening financial support, at an executive meeting of the State Council chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday.