All eyes are on China's crucial first quarter GDP data due out Friday at 10 a.m. local time. While most analysts agree it will show a slowdown in China's economic growth, opinions are divided on just what that will mean for policy makers.
Analysts said Friday's GDP data is likely to show a slowed economic growth of around 8.4 percent for the first quarter, down from the 8.9 percent year-on-year growth seen in the last quarter of 2011. A growth rate of 8.4 percent would be the lowest since 2009. Some said expected slow growth figures will mean the government will make ensuring growth the top priority for the country's macro-economic policies.
Li Wei, economist of Standard Chartered Bank, said, "We believe that in the short term, economic growth is the most important factor in setting monetary policies. We predict the GDP growth to be 8.3 percent."
If the central bank acts, it would be most likely to cut the bank reserve requirement, which would make more money available for lending. Other experts said, however, that this is unlikely to happen any time soon.
Sun Lijian, economist of Fudan University, said, "I think there will be some adjustments in the lending structure, but I don't see any signs that monetary policies are about to loosen or the bank reserve ratio to be cut. I think there is caution about an increase in the money supply."
Sun said China's economic growth is set to exceed 8 percent for the remainder of the year, supported by a better investment environment and a stronger global economy. But the World Bank pointed out the longer term challenge is to steer China's economy on to a more sustainable path, away from exports and investment, and towards a greater reliance on domestic consumption.
(CNTV.cn April 13, 2012)