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China Benefits from Commodity Price Collapse

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Core Tip:China’s economy would have expanded at less than 6 per cent in the first quarter if not for the collapse in global commodity prices, according to data reviewed by the Financial Times, raising concerns about the government’s ability to hit its 7 per cent g

China’s economy would have expanded at less than 6 per cent in the first quarter if not for the collapse in global commodity prices, according to data reviewed by the Financial Times, raising concerns about the government’s ability to hit its 7 per cent growth target for the full year.

At its first-quarter briefing in April, the National Bureau of Statistics reported that gross domestic product had increased 7 per cent but did not provide a breakdown of the growth figure into its three components — consumption, investment and net exports.

The Chinese government has been trying to boost consumption while weaning the economy off its traditional reliance on credit-fuelled investment. The net export figure, which boosts growth when China enjoys an overall surplus with its trading partners, has traditionally had a much more modest impact on output.

According to a breakdown of China’s first-quarter GDP figure that has only recently become available, net exports contributed 1.3 percentage points of the country’s seven per cent growth. By comparison, net exports accounted for just 0.1 percentage points of the 7.4 per cent growth figure reported for 2014 — China’s slowest annual rate of expansion in a quarter century.

Consumption and investment, meanwhile, accounted for 4.5 and 1.2 percentage points of first-quarter growth respectively. Without the 1.3 percentage point boost from net exports, China’s first-quarter growth figure would have been much lower at about 5.7 per cent.

“It’s quite worrisome,” said Bo Zhuang, China economist at consultancy Trusted Sources. “That’s why the government’s policies have been much more aggressive [over recent months].”
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