Growth pangs

Updated: 2014-10-27 07:43

By Andrew Moody(China Daily)

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Growth pangs

Employees at an automobile factory fine-tune a vehicle in Qingdao, Shandong province. China's GDP grew by 7.3 percent in the third quarter of this year. [Provided to China Daily]

Ruchir Sharma, head of global macro and emerging markets at investment bank Morgan Stanley, based in New York, argues the world is now almost more dependent on China's growth than that of the United States.

According to Morgan Stanley's own analysis, a one-point slowdown in China's growth will now take a half point off global growth.

"When the US sneezes, the world catches a cold; but now it is China's health that matters most," he writes in his Wall Street Journal blog.

Sharma, also author of Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles, about emerging economies, says Europe could be at that sharp end of further declines in GDP growth.

"China's slowdown is also sharpening Europe's polarized debate about how to revive growth that is no longer fully within European control."

Zhu Ning, deputy director and professor of finance at the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance, believes China is now so integrated into the global economic system that whatever that happens to its economy is headlines everywhere.

"China accounts for a quarter of global growth. We have reached a stage where you cannot fully understand the global economy without understanding the Chinese one. Countries around the world have such huge exposure to China, particularly resource exporting countries such as in Africa, Australia and Canada."

Weaker demand from China has been one of a number of factors behind the recent sudden fall in oil prices, which have slumped 15 percent over the past three months. This has hit badly a number of African countries, including Nigeria and Angola.

It has also been a major factor in this year's fall in commodity prices that has had a weakening effect on many other African economies.

Goolam Ballin, chief economist and global head of research for Standard Bank Group, based in Johannesburg, says the major concern would be if growth fell further.

"If China were to grow at 6 percent while that is nominally still a respectable rate, it would be tantamount to causing a recession in commodities markets. This would have a severe effect on countries like South Africa, Angola, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The resources economies are really at the raw end of China's nerve," he says.

But Michael Power, global strategist at Investec Asset Management, based in Cape Town, believes Africa has developed a certain resilience and is no longer so reliant on China's demand for resources.

"A lot of Africa is beginning to develop its own internal momentum that is no longer reliant on continued stratospheric growth for commodities. Growth in Africa is becoming increasingly driven by productivity gains domestically and supported by the demographics of being one of the few parts of the world with a young population."

He says there is increasing focus on Chinese private sector investment on the continent that has not been impacted by slowing growth that is turning parts of East Africa into a new manufacturing hub.

"Chinese companies are investing in manufacturing facilities, making textiles and shoes in Ethiopia and metal bashing in Kenya. Chinese companies are saying to the Bangladeshis and the Vietnamese that if you are going to undercut us, we are going to undercut you. They are making their products where labor costs are even lower."