China posted an economic growth of 7.4 per cent last year, missing the official target and slumping to a 24-year low, official data showed on Tuesday amid concerns over continued slowdown of the world’s second-largest economy.
The 7.4 per cent GDP was slightly below the government target of around 7.5 per cent for the year, even as officials were working to put the economy on a more sustainable track while tackling a housing slowdown, softening domestic demand and a weak global recovery.
The growth rate this year fell from last year’s 7.7 per cent, signalling the eclipse of the heydays of double digit growth rates for about two decades during which it overtook Japan to become the second-largest economy in the world after the US.
Last year, China’s gross domestic product reached 63.65 trillion yuan (USD 10.4 trillion), the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Tuesday.
Growth in the fourth quarter came at 7.3 per cent, flat with the rate seen in the third.
“The economy is maintaining steady operation under the new normal, with positive trends of stable growth, optimised structure, enhanced quality and improved social welfare,” Ma Jiantang, head of the NBS, told a media briefing while releasing the new figures.
In 2014, China’s industrial output grew at 8.3 per cent, down from the 9.7 per cent growth seen in 2013, while growth of China’s fixed-asset investment slowed to 15.7 per cent, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Retail sales went up by 12 per cent to 26.24 trillion yuan, the NBS data showed.
The Central Economic Work Conference (CEWC) conducted by China’s top leaders last month to assess the state of the economy admitted big “downward pressures” and announced reforms in nine areas to spur growth.
As part of the reforms, China has announced industrial parks in three more cities.
Last year China launched the Shanghai pilot free trade zone as part of its new set of fiscal reforms to halt the economic slowdown.
It was the first FTZ launched after the Shenzhen SEZ launched 34 years ago which was considered to be a successful experiment to initiate a new set of reforms.
The CEWC meet said that China will accelerate reform in nine areas this year including the capital market and market access for private banks.