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2014 'make-or-break' for China: Standard Chartered

Updated: 2013-12-06 17:24
( Xinhua)

BEIJING - Next year will be "make-or-break" for China, as the country implements economic reforms proposed at a key meeting of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee last month, banking multinational Standard Chartered said in its latest report.

The annual report titled "Global Focus 2014 Rising East, Emerging West" said the new Chinese administration has already rolled out some of its policies this year. These include attempts to shut down excess capacity, an anti-corruption push and moves to cut red tape.

"2014 will reveal whether more complicated issues such as fiscal, land and State-owned enterprise (SOE) reform can be meaningfully tackled. We are optimistic," it said.

The bank forecast 7.4-percent economic growth in 2014, lower than the 7.6-percent projection for this year. The consumer price index (CPI) for 2013 is projected at 2.7 percent, which could rise to 3.3 percent in 2014.

It expected good momentum in the first quarter of 2014 as the modest recovery continues. However, leading indicators such as overall credit conditions and housing sales weakened in the third quarter of 2013, and this should cause economic momentum to slow in the second half of 2014.

External demand -- which supports about 12 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and absorbs some 35 percent of industrial output -- should be a little better than in 2013, the bank said.

"We think export growth could accelerate 10 percent to 15 percent in 2014 from around 8 percent in 2013."

Domestic investment should receive support from the recovery in construction activity and from additional manufacturing capacity. Mild wage growth -- around 10 percent in nominal terms -- should support domestic consumption, it said.

Standard Chartered expected broad reforms to take place in China next year, mainly in five aspects:

-- The beginnings of SOE reform, with companies classified into competitive and non-competitive groups. Competitive sectors should see some diversification of ownership and more competition with the private sector.

-- Limited experiments to allow farmers' collectives to sell rural land directly to developers.

-- The establishment of a local government debt management framework, and limited municipal bond issuance.

-- Sales of some local SOE assets as city governments seek to raise revenues to repay their infrastructure-related debts.

-- A clarification of the split of spending responsibilities between central and local governments, and some new local taxes (including property tax pilots).

It also expected more financial reforms:

-- More freedom for deposit rates once the deposit insurance system begins, resulting in smaller bank margins and more lending to private borrowers.

-- Less intervention in the foreign exchange market. This has been a long-term ambition of the People's Bank of China, the central bank, but could well take the next step in 2014.

-- Further opening up of the capital account to include greater cross-border lending and "individual" offshore investments through a new QDII framework.

-- The first use of open-capital-account bank accounts in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone as activity in the new zone begins.