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China to continue to be key driver of global growth: IMF chief economist

Updated: Jul 25,2017 9:15 AM     Xinhua

Maurice Obstfeld (C), chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) addresses to the media in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 24, 2017. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on July 24 revised up China’s growth forecast for 2017 and 2018 to 6.7 percent and 6.4 percent respectively.[Photo/Xinhua]

KUALA LUMPUR — China’s growth will continue to be a key driver for a firming recovery of the world economy, the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on July 24.

Maurice Obstfeld, the IMF’s economic counselor and director of research, made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Xinhua as the IMF revised up China’s growth forecast for 2017 and 2018 to 6.7 percent and 6.4 percent respectively.

The updated World Economic Outlook report published here on July 24, which came days after China posted a stronger-than-expected second quarterly performance, was a reflection of a solid first quarter underpinned by previous policy easing and supply-side reforms, including efforts to reduce excess capacity in the industrial sector, according to the IMF.

“We have seen very strong growth and especially beyond our update, second quarter number of 6.9 percent is also above expectation. So clearly growth is proceeding at pace,” Obstfeld said.

“Strong Chinese growth drives growth particularly in Asian region but also throughout the world,” Obstfeld added, noting that China is a big contributor to the overall growth and has a very large spillover effect to the world economy.

As China is transforming its economy from traditional manufacturing sector to service and consumption oriented sector, its structural transformation and the rebalancing of its economy should lower the growth rate and put growth on a firmer basis over time, the chief economist said.

“It’s very important for the world economy not just that China grows at a strong rate, but that it grows in a stable fashion, dependable fashion without big fluctuation,” he said.

The prestigious economist expressed the IMF’s concerns on China’s credit driven growth and some vulnerabilities in its financial systems that could derail growth, but he also pointed out that the Chinese government is clearly recognizing these issues and has taken actions.

The recent strengthened coordination between the People’s Bank of China and the State Council on financial oversight “is a big step forward” that will lead to more effective oversight of the financial markets, he said.

China announced that it will set up a committee under the State Council to oversee financial stability and development during the recent National Financial Work Conference.

Obstfeld said China has entered the debate of globalization in a positive way, which will be helpful not only to major economies but also for other countries.

He said China could take concrete actions to promote the global system, and that the Belt and Road Initiative is “very important” in the context.

Proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa on and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes. It comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

It promises not only a lot of useful infrastructure investment but to lower trade cost between very important parts of the world, which promotes international trade and prosperity across the wide stretch of Eurasia, Obstfeld said.

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