23 July 2013 07:32

China Premier Says Growth Must Stay Above 7%

China_L

China's economic growth must be kept above 7% as that is the bottom line of the government's tolerance, Premier Li Keqiang said in comments reported by a state newspaper Tuesday.

The Beijing News cited the premier as telling a State Council meeting last week that economic growth can't be allowed to slip below the 7% level as that will help the government reach it's official target of doubling the size of the economy this decade.

Mr. Li also told the meeting that a "reasonable" growth target of 7.5% was set with maintaining labor market stability in mind. He added that the government's tolerance for consumer inflation was 3.5%, according to the report.

China set a growth target of 7.5% for 2013 at the annual session of the National People's Congress, the nation's legislature, in March.

A 7% growth rate for the year would be the lowest since 1990, and would imply a drop in growth to below 7% in the second half of the year. Economic growth in the second quarter was 7.5% year-on-year after an expansion of 7.7% in the first quarter.

The government has refused to step in and use a big increase in fiscal spending to support a slowing economy, leading many analysts to slash their growth forecasts for this year to below 7.5%.

The premier had been cited earlier as saying that there was a lower limit to growth and an upper limit to inflation in the government's planning. The official reports did not give precise figures, however.

"As long as the economic growth rate, employment and other indicators don't slip below our lower limit and inflation doesn't exceed our upper limit (we'll) focus on restructuring and pushing reforms," Mr. Li said in a statement posted on the central government website on July 10.

"Stable growth can create the room and conditions for structural reform and structural reform can give momentum to (future) economic development," he told a meeting with local government leaders.

On Sunday, the official Xinhua News Agency weighed on the debate on the government's willingness to tolerate a slowing economy.

GDP growth will need to average 6.9% per year between now and 2020 to meet the official target of doubling the size of the economy this decade, Xinhua said, arguing that the 7% mark is effectively a floor on growth.

Write to djnews.beijing@dowjones.com

 

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 23, 2013 00:55 ET (04:55 GMT)

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