China’s growth slumps as ‘Covid-stunned’ consumers ‘not in splurging mood’

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Beijing: Consumers in China continue to remain “stunned” from disruptions due to Covid-19 pandemic and are “not in a splurging mood right now,” said head of shipping company Maersk, Vincent Clerc, adding that the trend is leading to weaker economic rebound of the Asian nation.

Clerc, the new chief executive of the world’s second-largest container shipping group, said a real estate meltdown in 2022 has also led to a slower economic recovery of China.

For 2023, China, the world’s second-largest economy, has set a growth target of 5 per cent, surprisingly lowest in decades. It is because the country missed its 2022 target due to President Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy and faltering overseas demand.

China’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 3 per cent in 2022.

China not in splurging mood

In an interview in Beijing, Clerc said in the start of the year, AP Moller–Maersk hoped strong rebound after China reopened, lifting its stringent Covid-19 induced lockdown. “I think we have not seen it yet… The Chinese consumer is a bit more stunned by what’s happened and is not in a splurging mood right now,” he said.

However, several economists are hoping for a stronger performance after China, in December, abruptly abandoned its stringent Covid-19 lockdown.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecasted China’s growth to be at 5.2 per cent this year.

Not quite the ‘roaring’

Clerc said there has been not “quite the ‘roaring’ 20s’-type mood that one could have expected after this long interruption.

Attending the annual China Development Forum investor conference along with global chief executives in Beijing, Clerc said 70 per cent of Chinese savings were in real estate which was massively affected by the Xi-led government’s crackdown on leverage.

“Chinese stocks were also underperforming. The negative mood has been compounded by geopolitical tensions between the US and China,” he added.

“It’s not like you get a lot of optimism around when you follow the news and so on, so there may be a bit of a delayed effect as people get back into their [spending] routines,” Clerc said.

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China’s growth slumps as ‘Covid-stunned’ consumers ‘not in splurging mood’
China’s growth slumps as ‘Covid-stunned’ consumers ‘not in splurging mood’
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