China’s 2018 GDP Growth Target Set at 6.5%

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The state-run Xinhua News Agency reports that Beijing has set China’s official GDP growth target at 6.5% for 2018.

Both Goldman Sachs and Reuters previously forecast a GDP target of 6.5% for 2018, with the investment bank pointing out that the benchmark is “still an important anchor for economic policymakers, ministers and provincial officials.”

The official release of the target follows speculation that the setting of official GDP targets would be abandoned by Beijing, after it called for a shift towards “quality” focused economic growth towards the end of last year.

Some experts have criticised the ongoing use of GDP targets, on the grounds that they incentivise the adoption of debt-fuelled growth policies by local government.

Ma Jun (马骏), current chair of Tsinghua University’s Finance and Development Research Centre, said that the Chinese economy has reached an opportune moment for rescinding the use of GDP growth as the primary basis for economic performance targets.

In a recent interview with Caixin, Ma called for the cancellation of GDP targets starting in 2018, and their replacement with stable employment as the core goal for macroeconomic policy in future.

President Xi Jinping raised eyebrows at the Chinese Communist Party’s bi-decennial National Congress in October when he refrained from making mention of a long-term economic growth target.

At the start of the decade the Chinese government set the target of doubling 2010 GDP and per capita income levels by 2020, with Xi observing in 2015 that this would require average annual growth of over 6.5% throughout the full decade.

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