Growth in China’s less-developed inland provinces weakened last quarter while expansion in some coastal areas picked up and all regions reported faster gains than nationwide figures, local-government data showed.
Expansion in southwestern Sichuan was 10.2 percent in the first quarter, compared with 2012 full-year growth of 12.6 percent, while neighboring Guizhou’s gross domestic product gains eased to 12.6 percent from 2012’s 13.6 percent. Eastern Zhejiang reported 8.3 percent growth in the first three months after 8 percent in 2012 and export-dependent Guangdong showed 8.5 percent, up from 8.2 percent last year.
The reports indicate the gap in growth speeds between inland and more-industrialized coastal regions may be narrowing as the government slows infrastructure investment while the south and east benefit from higher exports. Almost half of China’s provinces set lower targets for expansion this year than in 2012, according to Nomura Holdings Inc.
“China’s central and western regions are more reliant on infrastructure investment than coastal areas,” said Xu Gao, chief economist for Everbright Securities Co. in Beijing. “As credit gradually feeds into investment projects, growth in western areas may pick up again -- domestic demand, not external, will decide China’s growth prospects.”
The growth rate was lower in the first quarter than in full-year 2012 for about three-fourths of the 31 provincial areas, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. All regions reported faster growth than the national reading of 7.7 percent for the first quarter, with northwestern Gansu gave the fastest expansion at 12.9 percent and Shanghai the slowest at 7.8 percent, figures from local statistics bureaus showed.
The governments didn’t break down figures for the fourth quarter.
An official survey of manufacturers across the country also shows a divide. A purchasing managers’ index for the eastern region was at 51.3 in April, while the gauge for central areas was 49.6 and it was 50.1 for the west, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. Numbers above 50 indicate expansion.
The national expansion rate in the first quarter marked an unexpected slowdown from the 7.9 percent pace in the final three months of last year. Full-year growth was 7.8 percent in 2012.
The provinces are known for reporting growth rates that often exceed the national pace calculated by the central government. The combined GDP released by Chinese provinces for 2012 was 5.8 trillion yuan ($940 billion) more than the countrywide figure published by the National Bureau of Statistics, according to the state-run China Daily. That’s about the size of Indonesia’s economy.
--Zhou Xin. Editors: Scott Lanman, Nerys Avery
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