'Very difficult' for China's economy to grow 6% or faster, says Premier Li Keqiang

In this photo taken on Sept 10, 2019, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang meets a group of US entrepreneurs at Zhongnanhai in Beijing, China. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said it is "very difficult" for China's economy to grow at a rate of 6 per cent or more because of the high base from which it was starting and the complicated international backdrop.

The world's No. 2 economy faced "certain downward pressure" due to slowing global growth as well as the rise of protectionism and unilateralism, Mr Li said in an interview with Russian media which was published on the Chinese government's website, gov.cn.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 6.3 per cent in the first half of the year, and Mr Li said the economy was "generally stable" in the first eight months of the year.

"For China to maintain growth of 6 per cent or more is very difficult against the current backdrop of a complicated international situation and a relatively high base, and this rate is at the forefront of the world's leading economies," Mr Li was quoted as saying.

Analysts say China's economic growth has likely cooled further this quarter from a near 30-year low of 6.2 per cent in April-June.

Morgan Stanley says it is now tracking the lower end of the government's full-year target range of around 6-6.5 per cent.

In response, the authorities have increased support, announcing on Sept 6 a cut in the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for the third time this year, releasing 900 billion yuan (S$174 billion) in liquidity into the economy.

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