China’s 2019 economic growth weakens to 6.1% amid trade war
By JOE McDONALD, BEIJING (AP): China’s economic growth sank to a new multi-decade low in 2019 as Beijing fought a trade war with Washington and domestic consumer spending weakened, adding to headaches for the ruling Communist Party.
The world’s second-largest economy grew by 6.1%, down from 2018’s 6.6%, already the lowest since 1990, government data showed Friday. Growth in the three months ending in December held steady at the previous quarter’s level of 6%.
Chinese exporters have been battered by President Donald Trump’s tariff hikes in a fight over Beijing’s technology ambitions and trade surplus, though the overall impact on China’s economy has been smaller than some forecasters expected.
The economy faces “downward pressure” and “instability sources and risk points” abroad are increasing, the government said in a statement.
Negotiators this week signed an interim trade deal under which Washington agreed to cancel additional planned tariff hikes and Beijing committed to buy more American farm exports. Tariff hikes already imposed by both sides on billions of dollars of each other’s goods remain in place.
Economic growth for 2019 was at the low end of the ruling party’s official target of 6 to 6.5%. The party is trying to steer China to slower, more manageable growth, but an abrupt downturn in activity and the clash with Washington have forced the ruling party to step up government spending and take other measures to support growth.
Growth in retail spending, which Chinese leaders are trying to nurture in order to reduce reliance on trade, decelerated to 8% over a year earlier, down from 8.2% in the first three quarters. E-commerce spending rose 16.5%.
Factory output rose 5.7% over 2018, down from 6% for the first six months of the year.