Spotlight on China: Decelerating Growth but Still Growing

While most of the world expects to be walking a tightrope between GDP growth and contraction over the next year, Mainland China is expecting 8 per cent growth in 2012. Many business leaders in the West have looked at the dichotomy between anemic local markets and that of China, and tried to tap into that growth. But that growth is slowing, and it may not have enough momentum to help new or expanding entrants into the market.

A new study on talent in China by The MRI China Group, an MRINetwork affiliate with offices throughout Mainland China and Asia, shows that North American and European opinions of Greater China’s economic outlook seem more positive than the opinions of those within Mainland China.

“It’s almost as if the Chinese economy, in every respondent’s perception, was disconnected from the rest of the world,” says Christine Raynaud, CEO of The MRI China Group.

While 60 per cent of respondents in North America and Europe said they saw a positive financial outlook for China in 2012, only 43 per cent of business leaders working in Mainland China said the same. And for top managers, the positive outlook was 38.5 per cent. Of those based in China, more than 15 per cent held a negative outlook for the country’s economy, while only 10 per cent of those based in North America and Europe had a negative outlook for Greater China. The balance of respondents reported a neutral outlook.

The deceleration of economic growth in China is being called a soft landing by the Chinese government, while others perceive it as the beginnings of a crash. Real estate prices have been falling for nearly six months in many parts of China. Critics contend, though, that the exponential growth of the Chinese population and economy could allow a correction to occur without the economy actually crashing.

“Overall, China’s job prospects are still seen as positive, with over half of respondents in life sciences and healthcare, professional services, and retail and consumer sectors providing positive assessments,” says Raynaud.

According to The MRI China Group’s study, even a majority of respondents-50.5 per cent-saw a positive outlook for the financial industry’s career outlook in Mainland China. In Hong Kong, however, the results were not optimistic, with 55 per cent reporting a negative outlook.

The world’s second-largest economy appears to be in a strangely unique position where a slowdown still means high single-digit economic growth and job creation.

“In 2012, global leaders would be cautious not to expect growth and profitability wonders within the slowing growth outlook in a continuing inflationary context, yet the long term prospects of Mainland China remain solid,” says Raynaud.