China says its economy grew 2.3% in 2020, but consumer spending fell


Employees working on a dry-type transformer production line at an electrical production factory in Haian, in eastern China’s Jiangsu province on Jan. 4, 2021.

Stringer | AFP | Getty Images

BEIJING — China reported GDP rose 2.3% last year as the world struggled to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Chinese consumers remained reluctant to spend, as retail sales contracted 3.9% for the year. Retail sales for the fourth quarter rose 4.6% from a year ago.

Gross domestic product grew by 6.5% in the fourth quarter from a year ago.

Economists expected China to have been the only major economy to grow last year, and predicted GDP expanded by just over 2%.

Covid-19 first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. In an effort to control the virus, Chinese authorities shut down more than half the country, and the economy contracted by 6.8% in the first three months of 2020.

However, China returned to growth by the second quarter. Economists polled by Reuters predicted GDP would increase 6.1% in the fourth quarter, faster than the 4.9% pace of the prior quarter.

China’s GDP growth figure this year will come off a lowered base.

In late December, the National Bureau of Statistics lowered China’s official growth rate for 2019 to 6.0%, versus the previously reported 6.1%. The cut primarily occurred in manufacturing, as factories dealt with new U.S. tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods.



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