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Economy in Brief

Chinese GDP Growth Remains Strong in Q1
by Carol Stone April 20, 2005

China's GDP gained 9.5% year-on-year in the first quarter, according to data reported this morning in Beijing. This followed a similar performance in Q4 2004, and compared with at least one analyst survey that showed a consensus forecast slowing to 9.0%.

Of the three broad industry groups reported today, two indeed slowed. Growth in the "primary" sector, mainly agriculture, decreased to 4.6% from 5.5% during all of 2004. Even so, these and the previous three quarters remain notably stronger than any pace in the prior six years of these output data.

The services sectors, "tertiary" industries, also retreated somewhat in Q1, expanding 7.6% versus 8.6% during 2004. Both periods, however, have similar rates to those that have prevailed in previous recent years.

"Secondary" industries include mining, manufacturing and utilities. There growth picked up a bit in Q1, to 11.3% from the 10.9% pace in 2004.

Policymakers have hoped for more distinct slowing in growth, and have tightened credit to try to achieve that. So far, their success has obviously been limited. The result of today's GDP report is likely to be continued restraint, and several forecasters today pointed toward still more interest rate increases. The People's Bank of China key 1-year lending rate is presently 5.58%, last raised in October.

4-Qtr % Changes Q1 2005 Q4 2004 2003 2002 2001
Nominal GDP 15.7 15.4 22.3 7.0 5.2
Real GDP 9.5 9.5 9.9 -- --
Cumulative YTD: Nominal GDP 15.7 17.0 14.0 6.7 7.3
Real GDP 9.5 9.5 9.3 8.3 7.5
Primary Industries* 4.6 5.5 2.5 2.9 2.8
Secondary** 11.3 10.9 12.7 9.8 8.4
Tertiary*** 7.6 8.5 7.3 8.7 8.4
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