China is the world’s second largest economy and one of its fastest growing.
It consumes an enormous share of the world’s resources and so any changes to its growth rate or economic make-up is bound to have a huge effect on the rest of the world.
So when jitters over its future growth potential hit markets in August last year and January this year, shockwaves spread to neighbouring countries and hit mining, shipping and energy companies hard across the globe.
Financial markets, both in stocks and bonds felt the shockwaves too, leading to the US Federal Reserve postponing an expected interest rate rise in March.
HSBC analysts Julia Wang and James Pomeroy published a comprehensive note on China on Thursday, detailing exactly how China’s appetite for imports affects the world.
Here’s HSBC (emphasis ours):
And given the huge share of GDP that exports to China now represent in the GDP of some of these emerging markets, China’s growth rates will have a profound impact on local growth rates.
Using the relationship between Chinese import growth and GDP growth, we can see the impact that a different pace of Chinese growth may have on other countries.
For example, Chinese demand may push up Korea’s headline GDP by anything between 0.2 and 1.8ppts depending on the pace of growth in China, all other things being equal.
This is substantial, and suggests that the world will continue to be reliant on China’s domestic economy to spur growth overseas.
Here’s the chart, showing the how central China is in the commodities trade. Check out China’s hunger for building materials and food:
But, as China moves from a manufacturing and industrial hub to focusing more on less tangible imports like legal and financial services, developed economies are set to benefit over emerging ones.
Here’s HSBC again:
The UK, for example, exports a lot of services (12% of GDP) and these primarily go to the US, Germany and the Netherlands.
China’s imports are largely made up of goods, mainly from other developing countries. As China’s demand shifts towards services and higher value products such as pharmaceuticals, this may prove a boost for western economies.