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China’s economic growth with WTO accession: is it sustainable?

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China’s economy has been remarkably successful economy since reforms were introduced in 1979. Its growth of real GDP has averaged 9% per annum over this period and reached an impressive 9.9% in the first quarter of 2003 despite the weak global economy. However, recent indicators have begun to cast doubt on the sustainability of its economic growth. Chief among these is its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 11 December 2001 achieved after many years of negotiations. This opens up numerous opportunities, but also introduces risks in many ways. China’s stumble has come as a surprise to many, but not to those who have studied its particular path of economic transition. The paper analyses how the ‘gradualist’ path of economic reform taken by China predicted the current state of uncertainty regarding its growth prospects. The article argues that China’s economic growth will rely on its successful integration into the global economy. It concludes with an assessment of the future challenges facing China and its structural problems. We can be cautiously optimistic conclusion about the sustainability of China’s growth.

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