BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s annual economic growth could exceed 7.5 percent in the first half of 2012 but the economy still faces growing downward pressure, a senior official with the industry ministry said in remarks published on Wednesday.
Analysts forecast in a Reuters poll in May that China would deliver second-quarter economic growth of 7.9 percent from a year earlier, with full-year growth of 8.2 percent, which would be the lowest since 1999.
The pace of growth for the first half would be in line with the official target for 2012 but the government should move quickly to prevent growth from slowing further, Zhu Hongren, chief engineer at the Ministry of Industry and Information, was quoted by the Jinan Times, as saying.
“Gross domestic product grew 8.1 percent in the first quarter and economic growth could be higher than 7.5 percent in the first half,” Zhu was quoted as telling a national meeting in Jinan, the capital of eastern Shandong province.
“In general, China’s current economy situation is stable and the growth rate is within the government’s target set earlier this year.”
China has yet to experience a sudden economic slump similar to the once in 2008/09, when millions of migrant workers lost their jobs, but companies faced increasing difficulties due to weak demand and overcapacity, Zhu said.
Weaker domestic and overseas data since May has prompted some to cut forecasts and many analysts now believe second-quarter growth could be just over 7 percent. In early June, the central bank cut interest rates for the first time since late 2008 to combat faltering growth.
Premier Wen Jiabao in March cut the annual economic growth target for 2012 to 7.5 percent, which if realized would be the lowest since 1990.
Reporting By Xiaoyi Shao and Kevin Yao; Editing by Nick Macfie