China's Xi says annual growth of about 7 percent possible over next five years

Tue Nov 3, 2015 6:53am EST
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BEIJING (Reuters) - China can maintain annual economic growth of around 7 percent over the next five years but there are uncertainties, including weak global trade and high domestic debt, Xinhua news agency quoted President Xi Jinping as saying on Tuesday.

Annual average growth would be no less than 6.5 percent in the next five years to realize the country's goal of doubling 2010 gross domestic product (GDP) and per capita income by 2020, Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

Chinese growth dipped to 6.9 percent in the third quarter, the weakest since the global financial crisis, hurt partly by cooling investment and prompting the central bank to cut interest rates and bank reserve requirements again.

"It's possible for China's economy to maintain growth of around 7 percent (over the next five years) but it also faces more uncertainties," Xi said, saying that main domestic and foreign research institutions believe China's potential growth could be between 6 and 7 percent in 2016-2020.

"Looking at the need to double GDP, the bottom line for annual average economic growth between 2016 and 2020 is more than 6.5 percent," Xi said.

Global trade was expected to remain sluggish and growth in China's consumption and investment could slow, and there may be risks from high debt levels, Xi said.

Development over the next five years should not focus just on the pace of growth, but also on the quality, Xi was quoted as saying, explaining a proposal for the country's 13th five-year plan, a blueprint for economic and social development between 2016 and 2020.

Top leaders have flagged a "new normal" of slower growth as it tries to shift the world's second-largest economy to sustainable, consumption-led development.

Premier Li Keqiang has said that China needs annual growth of at least 6.53 percent over the next five years. He was quoted by state radio as saying on Tuesday that environmental protection measures had contributed to the growth slowdown.   Continued...

A worker walks past an entrance to a construction site of a business building at the Central Business District (CBD) area, in Beijing, China, October 26, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Lee