The Chinese economy grew by 3.2 per cent in 2022, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). This was well below forecast and seems to have been caused by lockdowns associated with its Zero Covid policy, the London-based consultancy said in a report.
Zero Covid has been abandoned in Hong Kong, albeit not entirely successfully, and the consultancy expects that it will not be abandoned fully on the mainland until the population is better vaccinated.
CEBR said authorities must balance the sizeable risks to public health from loosening restrictions before immunity levels are sufficiently elevated with those to the economy from keeping activity suppressed.
China is an upper-middle-income country with a PPP-adjusted GDP per capita of $21,291 as of 2022.
CEBR in the report — World Economic League Table 2023 — said the country defied international trends by growing 2.2 per cent in 2020.
This was followed by a further expansion of 8.1 per cent in 2021. 2022, however, is expected to have seen a slowdown in growth, amounting to 3.2 per cent, the consultancy said in the report released on Monday.
PPP GDP is gross domestic product converted to international dollars using purchasing power parity rates. An international dollar has the same purchasing power over GDP as the US dollar has in the United States.
The report said China’s official growth targets are to achieve ‘high income’ status by 2025, a status that has probably already been reached, and a new target to achieve the status of a medium-level developed economy by 2035.
The latter has been taken to mean achieving GNI per capita of $20,000 in PPP dollars using the Atlas method (China’s GNI per capita on that measure was $11,890 in 2021 though the data has been revised up since).
CEBR said its forecasts predict that China’s growth may be slightly short of what is required to hit this target.
Gross national income (GNI) is defined as gross domestic product, plus net receipts from abroad of compensation of employees, property income and net taxes less subsidies on production.
The country achieved a favourable growth-inflation trade-off in 2022, with 2.2 per cent expected inflation. This stands in contrast to the sharp increase in inflation seen in many economies worldwide, according to the report.
Meanwhile, a feature of 2022 was the continued tightness of the labour market, CEBR said.
Although unemployment is forecast to rise by 0.2 percentage points to 4.2 per cent in 2022, the consultancy said it remains relatively low.
This will have provided a boost to consumer spending in recent months.
While government debt as a share of GDP remains at a moderate level compared to some economies in the region, it is anticipated to have reached 76.9 per cent in 2022, up from 71.5 per cent in 2021, according to CEBR.
The consultancy said China came 31st in the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business Index, indicating that the country’s regulatory environment made significant strides forward relative to other comparable countries. In 2016, the country’s ranking was 77th.
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