China's GDP growth slows to lowest rate in years

Workers at the Chinese port of Qingdao. Chinese exports are likely to face tougher months ahead

China's economic growth has slowed down to 6.5 percent in the third quarter - the slowest quaterly growth since 2009 - as a campaign to tackle mounting debt, and trade frictions with the U.S. take their toll.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected gross domestic product (GDP) to expand 6.6 percent in the July-September quarter, slowing only marginally from 6.7 percent growth in the previous quarter.

Chinese authorities are trying to navigate through numerous challenges, as the trade war fears have sparked a blistering sell-off in domestic stock markets and a steep decline in the value of the yuan versus the U.S. dollar, heightening worries about the growth outlook.

In the first three quarters of the year, GDP growth stood at 6.7 per cent, ensuring Beijing will achieve growth target of "around 6.5 per cent" for this year.

Third-quarter expansion of fixed-asset investment, a traditional engine of growth, fell to 5.4 per cent in the January-September period, up slightly from 5.3 per cent in the January-August period, data showed.

On a quarterly basis, growth slowed down to 1.6 per cent from a revised 1.7 per cent in the second quarter, in line with expectations of 1.6 per cent growth.

On Monday, China said its total exports grew faster than expected in September- 14.5 per cent year on year in dollar terms, up from 9.8 per cent in August - as many United States companies front-loaded their orders for the rest of the year to minimise additional tariff costs.

"Looking ahead, the economic outlook is not optimistic with exports facing further headwinds as U.S. tariffs kick in and demand from emerging countries ebbs".

The United States and China imposed new tit-for-tat tariffs against each other's goods in late September, the latest escalation in a heated trade war between them. It inched up to 5.4 percent in January-September from a record-low 5.3 percent in the first eight months as Beijing reined in spending on bridges, railways, and highways this year.

Retail sales in China have remained at relatively the same rates since a year ago, NBS said.

"We expect fiscal and monetary policies to become more growth-supportive, providing a lift to headline GDP growth".

The slowdown is likely associated with the crackdown on riskier lending and debt and the ongoing trade war with the US.

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