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Watch out: China's growth could fall to 4-5% by 2020

A traffic jam in Beijing, China
STR | AFP | Getty Images
A traffic jam in Beijing, China

China's economy will continue to slow, a number of high profile analysts said on Monday, forecasting that growth could fall to as low as 4-to-5 percent by the end of the decade.

"While the consensus of economists still lags, markets are adjusting to weaker growth prospects for China. We believe this adjustment to be structural, as we see Chinese growth slowing to just 6 percent in five years' time, and 4-5 percent by the end of the current decade," Societe Generale economist Michala Marcussen said in a note on Monday.

Her comments came after data on Monday showed the Chinese economy grew in-line with expectations in the second quarter at 7.5 percent year-on-year, down from 7.7 percent in the first three months of the year. This marked the second straight quarter of slowing growth.

(Read More: China's economy slows for second straight quarter)

SocGen held its full-year estimate for 2014 at just over 7 percent, with "little scope for upside surprises, as Chinese policymakers continue their tough love stance on taming credit," Marcussen said.

However, Nomura economists Zhiwei Zhang and Wendy Chen lowered China's growth forecast to 6.9 percent in 2014, and said growth would bottom out in the second quarter of 2014 at 6.5 percent.

They cited three reasons for their downgrade. Firstly, they said the government had made it clear that it was more concerned about the quality and sustainability of growth, than the amount of growth, and said it would probably lower its annual growth target to 7 percent for 2014.

Secondly, the analysts said that China has likely entered a prolonged period of deleveraging, which would last well into 2014. Thirdly, they cited a decreasing working population and lack of structural reforms as potential obstacles to growth.

(Read More: Just how low will China allow growth to go?)

"The size of the working-age population fell in 2012 – for the first time in at least 20 years – and will likely continue to slide in 2014 and beyond. Progress on structural reforms has been slow. The government has announced guidelines twice in the past five years to encourage private investment, but concrete action has been limited," Zhang and Chen said.

"We expect some positives to help growth recover modestly in the second half of 2014, but do not expect reforms to fully offset the negative effects of deleveraging and the demographic trends through the first half 2014," they warned.

(Read More: Why aren't markets rallying over China's GDP?)

Haibin Zhu, chief China economist for J.P. Morgan, revised down his 2013 and 2014 gross domestic product growth forecasts to 7.4 percent and 7.2 percent respectively, having previously forecast 7.6 percent growth in 2013 and 7.7 percent in 2014.

Zhu cited the less effective credit channel, the effect of the stronger Chinese yen on exports, slower credit growth and limited policy support measures as "likely to restrain the economy's growth momentum going into next year."

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, folow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt

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