Jim O'Neill says Chinese consumers are 'easily' most important to global economy — here's why

Key Points
  • China's gross domestic product (GDP) remains five times larger than India's, O'Neill said
  • The role of the Chinese consumer is pivotal to China's economic success story,
Jim O'Neill
Pier Marco Tacca | Getty Images

China's growth rate and the burgeoning relevance of its consumers are "easily" the most important influences on the global economy, according to the former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

Jim O'Neill said Monday that while it had been "fashionable" to talk about India outpacing China as the fastest-growing major economy, it should not be forgotten that Beijing's gross domestic product (GDP) remains five times larger than New Delhi.

And it's the role of the Chinese consumer that's pivotal to its economic success story, O'Neill said at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition Conference (ADIPEC).

On Saturday, China held its ninth annual 11.11 Global Shopping Festival — otherwise known as . In just short of a decade, it has become the largest shopping event in the world.

Alibaba announced over the weekend that Singles Day sales had ballooned up to $25.4 billion in 2017 — up 42 percent when compared to the previous year.

That figure not only set a new record for the e-commerce giant, but it also topped Black Friday and Cyber Monday U.S. sales combined.

"Singles Day in China makes the U.S. consumer look like an irrelevance," O'Neill said.

China and per capita income by 2020, from 2010 levels — a target set in 2012 — and growth is on track to hit those goals.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and many economists have urged Beijing to lower or do away with official growth targets altogether to reduce the country's reliance on debt-fueled stimulus and get higher quality growth.

— Reuters contributed to this report.