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23 May 2022

US growth set to surpass China for the first time since 1976

Forecasts suggest US GDP will grow by 2.8 per cent this year, compared with just 2 per cent in China.

By Katharine Swindells

Covid-19 lockdowns in China may cause the country’s annual economic growth to fall short of the US’s in 2022 for the first time since the 1970s, according to new analysis. A report last week by Bloomberg Economics forecast that China’s GDP would grow by just 2 per cent this year, while the US’s would increase by 2.8 per cent.

The Bloomberg forecast is significantly below the target set by Chinese officials of 5.5 per cent, but that was before the latest round of lockdowns in major cities including Shanghai, which have had a huge impact on retail sales and industrial production.

The 2 per cent forecast would also be lower than the 2.3 per cent growth seen in China in 2020, the first year of the pandemic. In fact it would be the lowest since 1976, the last time US GDP growth topped China. 

Joe Biden, the US president, claimed economic victory back in January, when figures for the fourth quarter of 2021 showed US GDP grew by 5.5 per cent, compared with 4 per cent in China. Chinese leaders, for their part, have announced a variety of spending and investment measures but Bloomberg analysis suggests this falls short of the large-scale action needed to achieve the country's 5.5 per cent growth goal.

[See also: America has learned nothing from its million Covid deaths]

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