Testimony at U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission — Eswar Prasad

Public Hearing on China’s 13th Five-Year Plan: Fiscal and Financial Reforms

China’s Economy and Financial Markets: Reforms and Risks

By Eswar S. Prasad

Chairman Shea, Vice Chair Bartholomew, and honorable members of the Commission, thank you for the opportunity to share with you my views on the status of market-oriented economic reforms in China, with particular emphasis on financial market reforms and capital account liberalization, along with a discussion of the risks the economy faces. In this testimony, I will also discuss China’s efforts to expand the international use of its currency, the renminbi (RMB), and how this is tied in to the domestic reform agenda.

These developments have taken place against the backdrop of a challenging domestic environment. Over the past year, China’s GDP growth has slowed significantly, producer prices continue to fall, and various other indicators of economic activity have weakened, including growth in industrial production, investment, and imports. However, the most recent data on GDP growth as well as industrial and services sector activity suggest that the economy has stabilized. Still, some further macroeconomic stimulus might be necessary to hit the government’s growth target of 6.5 percent.

On a more positive note, there has been some progress over the last 2-3 years on growth rebalancing, an important objective of the 12th five-year plan. The consumption to GDP ratio has gone up slightly, the service sector’s share in the economy has risen to over 50 percent, and the household saving rate has declined. China’s current account and trade surpluses have declined from their levels in 2007, although the merchandise trade surplus has climbed back to nearly 6 percent of GDP in the last half of 2015.

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