China's GDP growth to slow to 7.5 per cent this year, 7.3 per cent next: IMF

BEIJING - The International Monetary Fund said Tuesday China's economic growth would slow to 7.5 per cent this year and 7.3 per cent in 2015, avoiding a "hard landing" if the government addresses risks and undertakes reforms.

Releasing its latest World Economic Outlook report, the IMF also said India, South Korea and Indonesia among broader Asian economies should benefit from an improving export environment, though Thailand's prospects remain hostage to political instability.

The IMF said its outlook for China "is predicated on the assumption that the authorities gradually rein in rapid credit growth and make progress in implementing their reform blueprint so as to put the economy on a more balanced and sustainable growth path."

The estimates for growth in China's gross domestic product are unchanged from the IMF's previous forecasts in January.

But on Monday, the World Bank trimmed its own 2014 forecast to reflect "the bumpy start to the year," predicting China's GDP to grow 7.6 per cent this year, with its 2015 figure unchanged at 7.5 per cent.

The outlooks are the first by the global institutions since China announced last month that its 2014 GDP growth target was about 7.5 per cent, unchanged from last year.

Premier Li Keqiang, however, has suggested the government can accept a lower figure so long as growth achieves "fairly full employment" and helps "increase people's income."

The world's second largest economy grew 7.7 per cent in 2013, the same as in 2012 - which was the slowest rate of expansion since 1999. If this year's GDP figure falls below 7.5 per cent it would be the first time in 16 years the objective had not been reached.

China's leadership says it wants to transform the growth model from an over-reliance on often wasteful investment, instead making private demand the driver for development. It expects the makeover to result in slower but more sustainable rates of expansion.

"The likelihood of a hard landing in China after over-investment and a credit boom continues to be small," the IMF said, citing the power of policymakers to smooth out potential bumps in the transformation.

Still, it cautioned that responding will become harder if continuing problems such as rapid rises in credit are not addressed.