GDP: $4.9 trillion*/$5,943 per capita (2009)
GDP change: +8.7 percent (2009)
Population: 1.33 billion
Unemployment: 4.2 percent in urban areas, believed higher in rural areas (2008).
Textile & Apparel Exports to U.S.: $154 billion, 11 percent decrease from 2008.**
Key products: Cotton and synthetic-fiber apparel, printed fabric, innerwear, children’s wear.
Key companies: Shanghai Zhongxing Textile Co., Suntex Integrated, Shenzen H&S Garment Co. Ltd.
Currency: 6.83 yuan = $1 U.S.
China’s lightning-quick rise from nascent member of the World Trade Organization in 2001 to world economic power in 2009 has come hand-in-hand with its ascent to being the leading producer of textiles and apparel globally. In recent years, the road to economic growth through manufacturing has grown rockier, with thousands of factory closures related to the global financial crisis and ongoing trade disputes with major partners like the U.S.
While China’s leaders have pledged to move away from manufacturing toward an economy based on innovation, basic production remains a pillar of the economy, with the textile industry contributing $420 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product in 2008.
The country’s growing pains are expected to become more evident in 2010, as it faces continuing trade tensions with the U.S. and the European Union. The next phase for China’s economy, government officials and world trade experts say, is developing the domestic consumer market. The government is targeting 8 percent growth this year in domestic consumption, but faces pressures from inflation and other trouble spots.
Domestic consumption has risen steadily in recent years, but China is still a nation that saves more than it spends. China’s trade partners and central leaders agree that spurring consumption is key and the $586 billion economic stimulus package backed that with incentives for consumers to buy white goods.
* Based on official exchange rates.
** For the first nine months of 2009.
SOURCES: The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, CIA World Factbook, China Daily, Xinhua news agency, China National Bureau of Statistics.