China’s economy continues to dazzle, with a stellar GDP growth of 6.9%. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), four decades of reform has catapulted China from one of the poorest nations in the world to the second largest economy. In fact, China could become the world’s largest economy by 2030.
However, that’s not to say it will be an easy task. Critics claim its GDP figures are overinflated and the country is projected for more moderate growth of 6.6% in 2018 and an average of 6.3% the following two years.
The country is laden with debt, which the IMF estimates is equivalent to 234% of its total output. Its anti-pollution policies such as shutting down factories producing cement and steel are expected to impact economic growth. The trade dispute with the US, which has led to continued rounds of tariffs on one another, also remains a huge challenge.
Politically the Communist-led country continues to make headlines for its brutalist control. In the past year the one-party state has reportedly detained high-profile figures including former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei and actress Fan Bingbing as it looks to crack down on perceived disloyalty to the regime.
The retail outlook
China has transformed itself from a manufacturing-based and export-driven economy into a consumer-led society. Headlined by online giants Alibaba and JD.com, which are said to account for three
quarters of the retail market, China has turned into a global leader in ecommerce with the largest online market in the world.
Last year online sales in China soared 32% to CNY7.18trn (£789bn). While more retailers are diving into the market, in recent years brands including Coach and Macy’s have pulled the plug on their Chinese operations.