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China's annual economic growth could slow to 5% by 2017, says Chinese think tank

China's annual economic growth could slow to around 5% by 2017, according to an official at a Chinese think tank, said a report by Reuters.

Ren Zeping, the deputy director of the maroeconomic research department at the Development Research Centre of the State Council (DRCSC) said that China's economy is shifting gear from high speed growth to medium-speed expansion, the news agency said.

According to Ren, China's growth may slow to about 7.2% this year, lower than the government's target of 7.5%. Growth could slow further to around 6% in 2015, and to around 5% in the next two to three years he said, according to Reuters.

Ren attributed a steady deceleration in China's economy to inadequate domestic demand, which off-set a recovery in world demand following the global financial crisis of 2008, the news agency said.

China's economy grew 7.4% in the first quarter of 2014, compared to the same period last year, representing its slowest growth rate in 18 months. The slow down was due to falling exports and falling domestic investment growth, said Reuters.

China's vice finance minister Zhu Guangyao said earlier this month that he was confident of sustaining economic growth of between 7% and 8% over the next ten years.

Zhang Ji, director general of the foreign trade department at China's ministry of commerce, said earlier this month that China could miss its trade growth target for a third consecutive year in 2014 due to rising labour costs and weakening global demand, a report by Reuters said.

Zhang said that a period of high growth for China has ended as increased costs reduce its competitiveness and as Europe and the US try to boost their manufacturing and export sectors, the news agency reported.

"The foreign trade situation is complex and grim this year," Zhang told a news conference. "It's a very arduous task to achieve the annual target of 7.5%. The economic recovery of developed countries remains slow while growth of emerging economies is weakening."

The DRCSC is tasked with undertaking research on strategic and long-term issues concerning China's economic and social development, as well as issues relating to reform and opening up of the economy.

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