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Indian economy will grow faster than Chinese in 2012: World Bank
January, 14th 2011

For years, India has been the second-fastest growing major economy in the world. That could soon change, with the Indian economy set to expand at a faster pace than the Chinese economy in 2012, according to World Bank data.

This is expected to result from continued high demand in India even as measures to combat overheating kick in for the Chinese economy.

The multilateral agency`s World Economic Outlook has projected that India will grow at 8.7% in 2012, compared to China`s 8.4%. In 2011, however, China would continue to grow at a faster pace than India.

Although no reasons were mentioned in the report released on Thursday, the slowdown in China could be the result of an increase in interest rates as inflation has emerged a major concern across the border too, economists said. China has seen a rapid turnaround after the financial crisis on the back of fiscal stimulus.

In case of India, the economy has benefited from robust domestic demand and a revival in investor and consumer sentiment although higher interest rates are expected to shave off a few basis points from the overall growth rate. Improved external demand and stronger private capital inflows have also played a role. This year, a favourable monsoon has helped the farm sector expand and has in the process boosted rural demand as well.

Economists, however, played down the numbers. "If you are keeping scores, it`s fine but you must remember China is a $5.5 trillion economy while India is a $1.3 trillion economy. Even with a slower growth rate, incremental demand in China will remain much bigger than in the US," said Saumitra Chaudhuri, a member of the Prime Minister`s Economic Advisory Council and a member of the Planning Commission.

"It may be the case for one or two years but what matters is whether India can sustain high growth," added D K Joshi , chief economist at rating agency Crisil .

"It has to be seen how they are saying that the (China`s) growth rate will decline from 10% plus levels to 8.4%. For us, 8.7% is probably closer to our trend growth," said Pronab Sen, senior advisor in the Planning Commission.

China and India have seen rapid growth and have helped push up the global growth rate in the year`s post the financial meltdown. But India has always lagged its Asian rival, often referred to as the factory to the world, as China has flooded the international market with products ranging from lingerie to LCD television.

In recent years, foreign investors have bet big on India too, setting up manufacturing facilities but it has always been the second-most preferred destination. The increase in wages in China could, however, tilt the competitiveness scales in India's favour.

Overall, the report said that in 2011 and 2012, the global economy is shifting into a phase of slower but solid growth, with India and China contributing towards almost half of the global growth.

The World Bank estimated that global GDP, which expanded by 3.9% in 2010, will slow down to 3.3% in 2011 before reaching 3.6% in 2012.

In terms of policy prescriptions, the report said that in case of the South Asia, where India is driving growth, the recent monetary tightening would need to be pursued further given the region's high fiscal deficits, high inflation and rising current account deficit.

The report also warned that countries such as India, China and Brazil would have to grapple with high levels of capital inflows given the interest shown by foreign institutional investors. "Heavy inflows to certain big middle-income economies may carry risks and threaten medium-term recovery, especially if currency value rises suddenly or if asset bubbles emerge," it said.

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