China puts 2024 GDP growth target at around 5 percent

BEIJING: China on Tuesday set a growth target of around 5 percent for its economy in 2024, a “forward-looking and pragmatic” goal which deputies and economists said sends strong signals that the world’s second-largest economy will sustain its firm recovery momentum this year despite rising headwinds, while putting more emphasis on ensuring economic stability and transforming growth models.

Although achieving the growth target will not be an easy task given the sheer size of the Chinese economy and a grim global environment, Chinese officials have voiced strong confidence that the economy will likely meet or even hit over the target, underpinned by the country’s indigenous economic vigor as well as Chinese top policymakers’ strategic focus and rich toolbox at hands.

The highly anticipated economic agenda also offers a timely rebuttal to Western doomsayers who have recently been sparing no efforts to disparage the Chinese economy. A 5-percent GDP expansion this year would make China still one of the fastest-growing major economies, raising global expectation that the country would continue serving as both a stabilizer and a locomotive for the world.

The around 5-percent GDP target, along with a series of other key economic goals, was released in the Government Work Report delivered by Premier Li Qiang on Tuesday to the second session of the 14th National People’s Congress (NPC).

The GDP goal is similar to last year’s and is in line with market expectation, which observers said mirrors the country’s work priority to maintain policy consistence and economic stability.

In setting the growth rate, Chinese policymakers have taken into account the need to boost employment and income, and prevent and defuse risks. This growth rate is well aligned with the objectives of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and the goal of basically realizing modernization. It also takes account of the potential for growth and the conditions supporting growth and reflects the requirement to pursue progress and strive to deliver, according to Government Work Report.

While acknowledging that achieving this year’s targets will not be easy, Li pledged that the country will “maintain policy focus, work harder, and mobilize the concerted efforts of all sides.”

Observers said a 5-percent GDP growth aligns with the long-term development goals laid out by the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and the Long-Range Objectives through 2035, which stated that the country’s GDP should double by 2035, compared with its 2020 level. It also provides a necessary condition for China to achieve its goal of “creating over 12 million new urban jobs” in 2024 listed in the Government Work Report.

A growth rate of around 5 percent would also be faster than IMF’s projected global growth rate of 3.1 percent or the forecast of 1.5 percent for advanced economies and 4.1 percent for emerging market and developing economies. The IMF, in its latest World Economic Outlook report released in January, projected that China’s GDP will grow by 4.6 percent in 2024

According to the report, China will move faster to create a new pattern of development, and promote high-quality development. The report highlighted 10 major tasks this year and “striving to modernize the industrial system and developing new quality productive forces at a faster pace” was listed at the foremost.

The Government Work Report also presaged more fiscal stimulus to shore up the economy this year, according to economists.

China’s deficit-to-GDP ratio is set at 3 percent this year, and the government deficit is set at 4.06 trillion yuan, an increase of 180 billion yuan over the 2023 budget figure.

“We should appropriately enhance the intensity of our proactive fiscal policy and improve its quality and effectiveness,” Li said. He also proposed that 1 trillion yuan ultra-long special treasury bonds will likely be issued in 2024, and such bonds will also be issued over each of the next several years.

Observers said if the potential of all available resources and other elements are fully utilized, China could realize a GDP growth rate of between 5 percent and 6 percent this year, landing well above the 5-percent goal.

China’s overall economic recovery and growth were boosted in 2023, according to Li. Its GDP surpassed 126 trillion yuan last year, an increase of 5.2 percent, ranking China among the fastest-growing major economies in the world.

Mian Abrar
Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He tweets as @mian_abrar and also can be reached at [email protected]

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