IMF to urge China to shift growth model - GulfToday

IMF to urge China to shift growth model

Kristalina Georgieva

Kristalina Georgieva

The International Monetary Fund plans to tell China to boost weak domestic consumption, address its troubled real estate sector and rein in local government debt, problems that are dragging down both Chinese and global growth, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told Reuters.

Georgieva said in an exclusive interview the messages will be delivered to Chinese authorities in a forthcoming IMF “Article IV” review of China’s economic policies. The Fund will strongly urge Beijing to shift its growth model away from debt-fueled infrastructure investment and real estate, she said.

“Our advice to China is use your policy space in a way that helps you shift your growth model towards more domestic consumption,” Georgieva said. “Because the traditional way of infrastructure, pumping in more money, in this current environment is not going to be productive.” China’s aging population and falling productivity were playing a “suppressing role” in its growth rate, along with companies in the United States and Europe shifting supply chains away from China. China’s problems in the real estate sector have also caused consumers to rein in spending, Georgieva said.

“We actually project that without structural reforms, medium term growth in China can fall below 4%,” Georgieva said.

The IMF in July forecast China’s 2023 growth rate at 5.2% and 4.5% in 2024, but warned it could be lower given the contraction in real estate.

Georgieva also said it was important for China to address consumer confidence in its real estate sector by financing the completion of apartments that buyers have already paid for, rather than bailing out troubled developers.

The IMF is preparing to issue a new set of global growth forecasts ahead of IMF and World Bank annual meetings Oct. 9-15. Georgieva said separately the institutions would decide on Monday whether to proceed with the meetings in earthquake-hit Morocco.

The new forecasts are expected to reflect concerns about anemic GDP growth around the world, as most large economies are still lagging pre-pandemic growth rates.

The United States is the only large economy to have recovered pre-pandemic growth, while China is four percentage points below pre-pandemic trends, Europe down two percentage points and the world down three percentage points.

With China generating about a third of global growth this year, its growth rate “matters to Asia, and it matters to the rest of the world,” Georgieva said.

Asked about US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s recent comment that some US firms viewed China as “uninvestible”, Georgieva said: “There is some outflow from China. It is a trend that we need to carefully monitor, how it evolves over time.” She added there were some areas - including digital economy and green technologies - that remained attractive for investors.

She cautioned it was important to ensure China’s big push on electric vehicles was not done using subsidies in a way that created unfair competition.

Separately, The International Monetary Fund and World Bank will decide on Monday whether to proceed with Oct. 9-15 annual meetings in earthquake-hit Morocco after completing a “thorough review” of the country’s ability to host the meetings, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told Reuters.

Georgieva also said in an exclusive interview that the IMF has reached a staff-level agreement with Morocco to provide a $1.3 billion loan to bolster the country’s resilience to climate-related disasters from the Fund’s new Resilience and Sustainability Trust.

Questions have swirled over whether the IMF and World Bank would still hold their annual meetings in Morocco’s tourist hub of Marrakech since a devastating, 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck in the High Atlas Mountains, killing more than 2,900 people.

Marrakech, 45 miles (72 km) from the quake’s epicenter, suffered some damage in its ancient Medina quarter, but Moroccan officials have pressed the IMF and World Bank to proceed with the gathering, which would bring some 10,000-15,000 to the city.

“The Moroccan authorities are fully committed to the meetings,” Georgieva said in her first public comments on the matter since the disaster.

In describing discussions with Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch, Georgieva expressed concern that the IMF and World Bank “don’t want to be a burden” to the country as it deals with recovery efforts.


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