China should set an economic growth target of 6.5-7 percent for 2015, below its goal for 2014, and refrain from stimulus measures unless the economy threatens to slow sharply from that level, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday.
Most of its directors hold that view, though some feel that an even-lower growth target is appropriate, the IMF said.
In the conclusion of its annual Article IV economic consultation with China, the IMF repeated its projection that the economic growth would dip to 7.4 percent this year, and decelerate further to 7.1 percent next year.
The IMF cut its 2014 and 2015 economic growth forecasts for China last week. It had projected in April that the world's second-largest economy would grow 7.5 percent this year, and 7.3 percent next year.
Weakness in China's real estate sector posed near-term risks for China's economy despite signs of steadying, Markus Rodlauer, deputy director of the IMF's Asia Pacific Department and the fund's mission chief for China, told reporters.
"A key uncertainty remains in the real estate sector, some further weakness could be building and because of the very large direct and indirect importance of this sector, this still poses a risk to the near-term outlook," he said.
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Near-term risks in China's economy remained manageable due to the government's policy buffers, but Beijing must push reforms as the current path of growth is unsustainable, he added.
Beijing is not expected to announce its 2015 target until early next year, though some government economists have suggested a level of around 7 percent to help create more room to pursue structural changes.
"Regarding the growth target for 2015, while most directors concurred that a range of 6.5-7 percent would be consistent with the goal of transitioning to a safer and more sustainable growth path, a few other directors considered a lower target more appropriate," the IMF said.
China fixed its annual economic growth target for this year at around 7.5 percent, suggesting for the first time in years that there is room for growth to come in slightly under the desired level.
But after a weak start to the year, the government announced a flurry of stimulus measures to offset the drag from weak exports and a cooling property market.