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Monday, September 5, 2016

Action, not words or empty talk, needed to cure global economy, China tells G20 summit

G20 Summit opens in Hangzhou, Xi delivers keynote speech

Video: President Xi delivers speech at G20 banquet

Video: President Xi delivers speech at G20 banquetChinese President Xi Jinping urges world leaders to avoid "empty talk" and confront sluggish economic growth and rising protectionism as their summit opens in the scenic city of Hangzhou.

Action, not words, needed to lift economy - President tells world leaders China will strive to boost growth, aid development

President Xi Jinping urged the leaders of the world's biggest economies to deliver "real action" and "no empty talk" as they attempt to steer the global economy out of its sluggish state.

In his opening speech at the start of the two-day G20 Summit on Sunday, he said the G20 had drawn up action plans in multiple fields, including sustainable development, green finance, energy efficiency and anti-corruption, "and we should implement each of them seriously".

The Hangzhou summit has come at a time when the world economy is plagued by problems, short and long term, such as poor growth momentum, changing demographics, rising trade protectionism and low investment, Xi said.

But he insisted that G20 members will "face the problems squarely" and collaborate in developing solutions.

World leaders vowed at the meeting to find workable solutions to restore strong growth and achieve more-inclusive development that reduces inequality. They also agreed that more focus should be placed on structural reforms, innovation and high-technology, as traditional growth engines have weakened.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said leaders had agreed that they must work together to boost global economic growth, and she welcomed China's focus on structural reform.

She added that digital ministers from the world's biggest economies will meet for the first time next year and that the group planned to set up a task force for innovation, Reuters reported.

Xi said in his speech that while the world needs to better coordinate monetary and fiscal policies and carry out structural reforms, priority should be given to achieving balanced growth. He said the G20 will help less-developed countries, including those in Africa, with industrialization as well as green energy and finance to bridge the gaps in global development.

The G20 has been criticized in the past for failing to take concrete measures to coordinate world economies. While urging members to take substantial action, Xi said the group "should continue to build our mechanisms to ensure our cooperation continues and deepens".

"The G20 is becoming more systematic and is changing from a short-term arrangement to handle crises to a long-term dialogue and action mechanism," according to Chen Wenling, chief economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges. "To make it more effective, the G20 should establish a secretariat."

Wang Wen, acting director of Renmin University of China's Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, added: "The G20 used to be driven by crises, and now it's driven by ideas. China has provided a global consensus at the Hangzhou summit that will drive global joint action."

World economic growth-still made in China

By Stephen S. Roach (China Daily)

Despite all the hand-wringing over China's slower economic growth, the Chinese economy remains the single largest contributor to world GDP growth. For a global economy limping along at stall speed-and most likely unable to withstand a significant shock without toppling into renewed recession-that contribution is all the more important.

A few numbers bear this out. If Chinese GDP growth reaches 6.7 percent in 2016-in line with the government's official target and only slightly above the International Monetary Fund's latest prediction of 6.6 percent-China would account for 1.2 percentage points of world GDP growth. With the IMF currently expecting only 3.1 percent global growth this year, China would contribute nearly 39 percent of the total.

That share dwarfs the contribution of other major economies. For example, while the United States is widely praised for a solid recovery, its GDP is expected to grow by just 2.2 percent in 2016-enough to contribute just 0.3 percentage points to overall world GDP growth, or only about one-fourth of the contribution made by China.

The European economy is expected to add a mere 0.2 percentage points to world growth, and Japan not even 0.1 percentage points. China's contribution to global growth is, in fact, 50 percent larger than the combined contribution of 0.8 percentage points likely to be made by all of the advanced economies.

Moreover, no developing economy comes close to China's contribution to global growth. India's GDP is expected to grow by 7.4 percent this year, or 0.8 percentage points faster than China. But the Chinese economy accounts for fully 18 percent of world output (measured on the basis of purchasing power parity)-more than double India's 7.6 percent share. That means India's contribution to global GDP growth is likely to be just 0.6 percentage points this year-only half the boost of 1.2 percentage points expected from China.

More broadly, China is expected to account for fully 73 percent of the total growth of the BRICS grouping of large developing economies. The gains in India of 7.4 percent and South Africa 0.1 percent are offset by ongoing recessions in Russia, minus 1.2 percent and Brazil, minus 3.3 percent. Excluding China, BRICS GDP growth is expected to be 3.2 percent in 2016.

So, no matter how you slice it, China remains the world's major growth engine. Yes, the Chinese economy has slowed significantly from the 10 percent average annual growth recorded during the 1980-2011 period. But even after transitioning to the slower growth of what the Chinese leadership has dubbed the new normal, global economic growth remains heavily dependent on China.

There are three key implications of a persistent China-centric global growth dynamic.

First, and most obvious, continued deceleration of Chinese growth would have a much greater impact on an otherwise weak global economy than would be the case if the world were growing at something closer to its longer-term trend of 3.6 percent. Excluding China, world GDP growth would be about 1.9 percent in 2016-below the 2.5 percent threshold commonly associated with global recessions.

The second implication, related to the first, is that the widely feared economic "hard landing" for China would have a devastating global impact. Every decline in Chinese GDP growth of one percentage point knocks close to 0.2 percentage points directly off world GDP; including the spillover effects of foreign trade, the total global growth impact would be around 0.3 percentage points.

Defining a Chinese hard landing as a halving of the current 6.7 percent growth rate, the combined direct and indirect effects of such an outcome would consequently knock about one percentage point off overall global growth. In such a scenario, there is no way the world could avoid another full-blown recession.

Finally (and more likely in my view), there are the global impacts of a successful rebalancing of the Chinese economy. The world stands to benefit greatly if the components of China's GDP continue to shift from manufacturing-led exports and investment to services and household consumption.

Under those circumstances, Chinese domestic demand has the potential to become an increasingly important source of export-led growth for China's major trading partners-provided, of course, that other countries are granted free and open access to rapidly expanding Chinese markets. A successful Chinese rebalancing scenario has the potential to jump-start global demand with a new and important source of aggregate demand-a powerful antidote to an otherwise sluggish world. That possibility should not be ignored, as political pressures bear down on the global trade debate.

All in all, despite all the focus on the US, Europe, or Japan, China continues to hold the trump card in today's weakened global economy. While a Chinese hard landing would be disastrous, a successful rebalancing would be an unqualified boon. That could well make the prognosis for China the decisive factor in the global economic outlook.

While the latest monthly indicators show China's economy stabilizing at around the 6.7 percent growth rate recorded in the first half of 2016, there can be no mistaking the headwinds looming in the second half of the year. In particular, the possibility of a further downshift in private-sector fixed-asset investment could exacerbate the ongoing pressures associated with deleveraging, persistently weak external demand, and a faltering property cycle.

But, unlike the major economies of the advanced world, where policy space is severely constrained, the Chinese authorities have ample scope for accommodative moves that could shore up economic activity. And, unlike the major economies of the developed world, which constantly struggle with a trade-off between short-term cyclical pressures and longer-term structural reforms, China is perfectly capable of addressing both sets of challenges simultaneously.

To the extent that the Chinese leadership is able to maintain such a multi-dimensional policy and reform focus, a weak and still vulnerable global economy can only benefit. The world needs a successful China more than ever.

The author is a faculty member at Yale University and a former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, and author of Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China. Project Syndicate


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