Title: “Xu Xianchun: GDP growth is expected to be high in the first quarter, and low in the whole year” on the client of China-Singapore Jingwei on March 29
Author Xu Xianchun (former deputy director of the National Bureau of Statistics and professor at the School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University)
According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), from January to February 2021, the industrial added value above designated size grew by 35.1% year on year, the investment in fixed assets grew by 35%, and the total retail sales of consumer goods grew by 33.8%, which is a fairly high growth rate. It is expected that the growth rate in March is certainly not so high, but the overall GDP growth rate in the first quarter will be relatively high.
Influenced by the low base of 2020, the annual growth rate in 2021 should be relatively high, which is predicted by many scholars. In the Government Work Report of 2021, we predicted a GDP growth rate of over 6% for the whole year. This is a cautious prediction, and we may be optimistic about its realization.
Also influenced by the base, there will be a trend of high before and low after quarter in 2021. The annual economic growth rate was relatively high, especially in the first quarter. From the perspective of production, the tertiary industry is expected to become the main driving force of economic growth again.
In recent years, the tertiary industry has played a significant role in driving economic growth. In 2020, several industries experienced negative or low growth for the whole year. For example, the value-added of wholesale and retail fell by 1.3% year on year, transportation, warehousing and postal services grew by only 0.5%, accommodation and catering fell by 13.1%, and rental and business services fell by 5.3%. These industries, which are relatively hard hit by the epidemic, should have more room for growth in 2021.
In addition, the new economy and new drivers of growth will continue to maintain rapid growth. In 2020, the added value of high-tech manufacturing industry and information transmission, software and information technology service industry will grow at a relatively fast rate. In particular, the growth rate of information transmission, software and information technology service industry will reach 13.2% in the first quarter of 2020, rising quarter by quarter, 16.7% in the fourth quarter and 16.9% in the whole year. In 2021, these industries will continue to drive China’s economy to maintain relatively fast growth.
From a demand perspective, consumption is likely to resume its role as the main driver of economic growth. In 2020, consumer demand contributed 0.5 percentage points to GDP, investment demand contributed 2.2 percentage points to economic growth, and goods and net export demand contributed 0.7 percentage points to GDP growth. However, in fact, consumption demand in the first quarter of 2020 has a large downward pull, has become a positive pull in the third quarter, the fourth quarter of the pull further increased. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period, the average annual contribution rate of consumption demand to economic growth from 2016 to 2019 is 61.1%. That is to say, more than 60% of economic growth is contributed by consumption, about 40% is driven by investment, and net export demand is negatively driven in the first four years of the 13th Five-Year Plan period. Therefore, we should see that China’s consumer demand still has a relatively large potential.
The 14th Five-Year Plan attaches great importance to demand-side management, and proposes to build a new development pattern with the domestic cycle as the main body and the domestic and international double cycles mutually promoting. At the same time, with the gradual control of the epidemic and the rapid promotion of vaccines, the objective restrictions on offline consumption have been gradually weakened. Therefore, it is expected to resume its main role in driving economic growth in 2021.
Of course, investment demand will also remain stable, and exports are likely to remain strong in the first half of 2021. In terms of investment demand, because policy will not make a “sharp turn”, it will maintain a good driving effect on economic growth.
In terms of export, China’s export maintained a relatively good growth in the first half of the year because of the relatively good control of the epidemic, and the data of the beginning of 2021 also showed this momentum. Exports are also expected to play an important role in driving economic growth in 2021. According to the current data, from January to February 2021, the contribution rate of industrial export delivery value to the growth of industrial production reached 11.7%. It is expected that the export performance in the first quarter is strong, but there may be greater uncertainty in the second half of the year.
(This article was edited and not reviewed by Xu Xianchun at the China Macroeconomic Forum (CMF)(1Q2021).) (Xin Xin Jingwei APP)