BEIJING — China has the potential to “safely sustain strong growth” over the medium term as it continues to move onto a more sustainable growth path and advance reforms, a senior official with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.
IMF staff projected China’s growth in 2017 at 6.7 percent, the same as the previous year’s actual rate and higher than the government target of about 6.5 percent, according to a statement issued on June 14 by David Lipton, first deputy managing director of the IMF, after the IMF annual Article IV review of the Chinese economy.
The forecast was higher than the 6.6 percent projection in the IMF World Economic Outlook report issued in April, but the new forecast is preliminary and subject to management approval.
IMF staff, who visited Beijing and Northwest China’s Lanzhou from June 1 to 14 to hold discussions on the annual review, also projected average annual growth of 6.4 percent for 2018-2020.
The April report put China’s 2018 growth forecast at 6.2 percent.
“China continues transition to a more sustainable growth path and reforms have advanced across a wide domain,” Lipton said in the statement.
Discussions in the past two weeks focused on the policies needed to ensure China’s successful transition — which is vital to both its citizens and the rest of the world — and the urgency of accelerating pace of reforms.
“Policy support, especially expansionary credit and public investment, has helped China maintain strong growth,” Lipton said.
To realize the country’s medium-term growth potential, China needs a transition from the growth model that relies heavily on investment and debt and take immediate actions while growth is strong and buffers are sufficient, he added.
The IMF also acknowledged the strong measures taken by China to tackle challenges, including financial sector risks, corporate debt, and housing price boom.
While some near-term risks have receded, reform progress needs to accelerate to secure medium-term stability, the statement said.
The team provided policy recommendations to China, including a faster switch from investment to consumption, increasing the role of market forces and implementing a more sustainable policy mix.
A more sustainable macro-policy mix would include focusing more on the quality and sustainability of growth and less on quantitative targets, a gradual fiscal consolidation and less accommodative monetary policy, the statement said.
“Given China’s record of successful reforms in the past decades, and the authorities’ strong commitment and determination, we are confident that China will once again find its way through the challenges ahead,” Lipton said.