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China’s Economy Slows As It Tries to Diffuse Trade War With U.S.A.

The impact on China’s economy from the Sino-U.S. trade frictions are not apparent yet, Mao cautioned, adding that the nation will face more “external” uncertainties in 2019.

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China, Economic Growth
A woman cleans the window at a Aston Martin luxury car dealership in Beijing, Dec. 12, 2018. Auto sales have fallen sharply in China. VOA

China’s November retail sales grew at their weakest pace since 2003 and industrial output rose the least in nearly three years as domestic demand softened further, underlining rising risks to the economy as China works to defuse a trade dispute with the United States.

The world’s second-largest economy has been loosing momentum in recent quarters as a multi-year government campaign to curb shadow lending put increasing financial strains on companies in a blow to production and investment.

The slowdown in Chinese industries has started to weigh on consumer sentiment this year, tapping the brakes on retail sales. Big-ticket items have been the first to be hit, with auto sales declining since May.

Pace of retail sales slows

Retail sales rose 8.1 percent in November from a year earlier, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed Friday, below expectations for an 8.8 percent rise and the slowest since May 2003. In October, sales increased 8.6 percent. Auto sales fell a sharp 10.0 percent from a year earlier.

 

China
People try garments at a retail and wholesale clothing mall in Beijing, July 16, 2018. China’s economic growth slowed in the quarter ending in June, adding to challenges for Beijing amid a mounting tariff battle with Washington. VOA

 

The slump was in line with data released by China’s top auto industry association, which showed sales dived 14 percent in November, the steepest drop in nearly seven years.

The stresses on broad activity have been compounded by a sharp escalation in China’s trade dispute with the United States, which has threatened to fracture global supply chains, chill investment, exports and growth.

Pace of industrial output slows

Industrial output rose 5.4 percent in November, missing analysts’ estimates and matching the rate of growth seen in January-February 2016. Factory output had been expected to grow 5.9 percent, unchanged from October’s pace.

Over the weekend, China reported far weaker than expected November exports and imports, reflecting slower global demand and waning domestic factory activity as profit margins narrow.

With economic growth at its weakest since the global financial crisis, Chinese policymakers are ramping up spending, pushing banks to increase lending and cutting taxes to shore up businesses and ward off a more damaging slump.

USA, China, Trade War, economy
Plastic bags of fentanyl are displayed at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection area at the International Mail Facility at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. VOA

The weaker November industrial output and retail sales growth numbers showed that downward pressure on the economy is increasing, said Mao Shengyong, spokesman at the statistics bureau.

Still on track to hit growth target

But China is on track to hit its 2018 economic growth target of around 6.5 percent, Mao told reporters.

“On balance, the latest data show an economy that is under pressure on both the external and domestic front, with policy efforts to shore up growth still falling short,” Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economists at Capital Economics, wrote in a note.

A temporary 90-day trade war truce agreed by the United States and China early this month may have removed some of the immediate pressure on the economy.

Also Read: The Escalating Trade War Between China And U.S. Calls A Truce

The impact on China’s economy from the Sino-U.S. trade frictions are not apparent yet, Mao cautioned, adding that the nation will face more “external” uncertainties in 2019.

Indeed, even in the unlikely event the world’s top two economies reach a durable resolution in their dispute, ebbing domestic demand, mounting household debt and a cooling real estate sector point to a further slowdown in growth next year. (VOA)

Next Story

Economy to Overcome Other Issues in 2020, says Trump

President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger. 

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President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a Keep America Great Rally at the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. VOA

“It’s the economy, stupid” has been a catchphrase of U.S. presidential politics since the 1992 campaign, when Bill Clinton unseated incumbent George H.W. Bush. Nearly three decades later, U.S. President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger.

Trump — in tweets, at political rallies and in remarks to reporters — constantly emphasizes the performance of the U.S. economy, stock market surges, low unemployment rates and his tax cuts to boast he is doing a great job as president.

Economists and political analysts are divided on whether that message will enable the incumbent to stay in office beyond January 2021.

Culture war, partisan split

Ever since Clinton, “we’ve all kind of assumed that should be true. And I think for the most part, it is,” said Ryan McMaken, senior editor and economist at the Mises Institute, a politics and economics research group in Alabama. He cautioned, though, that Trump finds himself on one side of a culture war that his predecessors did not have to confront, as well as a deep partisan divide on consumer confidence.

Walmart Supercentre
Balo Balogun labels items in preparation for a holiday sale at a Walmart Supercenter, in Las Vegas. Black Friday once again kicks off the start of the holiday shopping season. But it will be the shortest season since 2013 because of Thanksgiving falling on the fourth Thursday in November, the latest possible date it can be. VOA

Policy analyst James Pethokoukis at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, a public policy research group, also is cautious about the economy prevailing over all other issues.

“Just having a strong economy is not going to guarantee you re-election,” he said. “People often point back to the 2000 election, which occurred after a decade of tremendous economic growth any way you want to measure it — gross domestic product, jobs and wage growth. And yet, [Clinton’s vice president] Al Gore still lost that election to George W. Bush.”

McMaken questioned whether voters in key swing states — such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio — who cast ballots for Trump in 2016 were experiencing enough of the touted economic performance to vote again for the president.

Overall, however, “it’s not a bad economy to run on if you’re Donald Trump,” said Pethokoukis.

Trump, said to have concerns about the direction of the economy ahead of next November’s election, will likely push for more tax cuts, passage of a renegotiated North American trade pact and continued pressure on the country’s central banking system, the Federal Reserve, to lower interest rates.

A LB Steel LLC's employee manufactures a component
A LB Steel LLC’s employee manufactures a component for new Amtrak Acela trains built in partnership with Alstom in Harvey, Illinois, U.S. VOA

Trouble ahead?

There are rumblings of economic storm clouds on the horizon. The impact can be seen in Trump’s trade war with China, which has hurt U.S. farmers and raised prices for consumer goods. It’s also reflected in the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index, an underperforming U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index and a ballooning record national debt, in addition to the worrying level of money owed to creditors by middle-class Americans.

“We’ve actually been in a sort of a manufacturing recession, seen a shrinkage of factory jobs, the exact kinds of jobs that I’m sure that people voting for the president thought would be a lot better now,” said Pethokoukis.

So far, none of this has prompted a major stock market correction.

“There seems to be a lot of adaptations in the markets to Trump’s America. That may work to his advantage,” said the Mises Institute’s McMaken.

Analysts note a lack of emphasis on economic platforms so far by the leading Democratic U.S. presidential candidates seeking to oust Trump next year.

But such a platform is likely to be touted when the opposition party holds its convention next July in Milwaukee and picks its campaign ticket. Pethokoukis suggested the Democratic Party should devise a plan with a goal to boost American worker productivity, which has flatlined for years.

The great divide

McMaken pointed out that the widening chasm between the well-off and those struggling economically in the United States makes Trump vulnerable — something emphasized by left-leaning Democratic presidential contenders such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Donald Trump says the economy isn't doing well
Tents and tarps erected by homeless people are shown along sidewalks and streets in the skid row area of downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S. VOA

“On the ground level, I would say just in general, the economy isn’t doing as well,” concluded McMaken.

ALSO READ: Greed For Power May Demolish The Democracy

Amid an impeachment drive by the Democrats, Trump is repeatedly hammering on a specific message to those questioning his suitability for office while being impressed with the performance of their pension accounts during his presidency.

“Love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me,” Trump said at a rally in New Hampshire in August, warning that Americans’ investments portfolios would go “down the tubes” if he lost next year’s election. (VOA)