GDP fourth quarter release for full year 2020

Employees work on a dry-type transformer production line at an electrical production plant in Haiyan, Jiangsu Province, east China on January 4, 2021.

Stringer | Agence France-Presse | Getty Images

BEIJING – China reported that its gross domestic product rose 2.3% last year as the world struggled to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Official data released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.5% in the fourth quarter of last year.

However, Chinese consumers remained reluctant to spend, as retail sales contracted 3.9% for the year. Fourth-quarter retail sales increased 4.6% from a year ago.

The Bureau of Statistics said online sales of consumer goods rose at a relatively fast 14.8% last year, but that the proportion of total retail sales remained fairly flat at around a quarter.

Economists expected China to be the only major economy to grow last year, and they forecast GDP growth of just over 2%.

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

However, China returned to growth by the second quarter. Economists polled by Reuters had expected gross domestic product to rise 6.1% in the fourth quarter, faster than the 4.9% pace in the previous quarter.

China’s GDP growth figure this year will come from a low base.

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

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