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China's Economic Conundrum: A Stumble, Not a Fall

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by Sakthi Prasad , Director - Content
26 September 2023

china economy

China is currently traversing through some of its most substantial economic challenges in decades, with the elements that have driven its growth for the past 20 years seemingly in a state of stall or reversal. However, experts argue that this does not represent a disaster for China or the global economy, as highlighted by a recent article in Barron's, a sister publication of The Wall Street Journal.

Economic Strains

China is contending with escalating financial and geopolitical pressures, and its policymakers are endeavouring to encourage consumer and business spending to mitigate the economic slowdown. Barron's reports that the nation's economic condition is perceived as the most precarious it has been in several decades, raising concerns and speculations about its future trajectory.

Economists are forecasting that, looking beyond its current economic woes, China’s annual growth rate will likely settle between 3% and 4%, a stark contrast to the double rate it maintained in the decade leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country is witnessing a decline in its workforce, the extraordinary surge in credit and investment that previously drove growth has been halved, and the real estate sector is under strain, anticipated to rebound as a much-contracted version, Logan Wright, the Director of China Research for Rhodium Group, told Barron’s.

China's Economic Conundrum

The influx of foreign direct investment into China has experienced a substantial decline, plummeting from $100 billion per quarter about five years ago to a current $5 billion. This decline is attributed to companies choosing to repatriate profits instead of reinvesting them in the country, Barron’s said citing Nicholas Lardy, a non-resident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics with expertise in China's economy.  “This is a notable shift from previous times when businesses viewed China as an attractive investment destination,” Lardy told Barron’s.

Also, from 2019 onwards, there has been over a 50 percent decrease in U.S. investments in Chinese private equity and venture capital.

Despite the recent survey from the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, indicating a heightened challenge in conducting business within the nation, two-thirds said they haven’t changed or considered altering their business strategies or business models in China, the paper said.

Negative developments could potentially pave the way for positive outcomes: As the immediate economic conditions continue to deteriorate, there is growing confidence among money managers and economists that Beijing will intervene by implementing additional stimulus measures to steady the economy, ultimately providing a safety net for stocks, according to the paper.

Not a Global Catastrophe

Despite the evident strains, experts, as mentioned in Barron's, believe that China is not on the brink of experiencing a "Lehman moment," which could lead to a global financial meltdown, nor is it destined for a prolonged deflationary spiral similar to Japan's lost decades. The current situation, while far from ideal, is not catastrophic for China or the international community.

Underestimating China's Resilience

Some circles are ready to write off China due to its current economic predicaments. However, such perspectives, Barron's suggests, underestimate the capabilities of Chinese policymakers and the resilience of an $18 trillion economy that serves as a home to 1.4 billion people. China remains a formidable economic entity, with its influence and interconnectedness on the global stage being unparalleled, being the top trading partner for 120 countries.

A Connected Giant

Talks of a broad-based breakup or decoupling of companies and nations from China overlook the extent to which it is interwoven with the rest of the world. Barron's emphasizes the intricate economic and trade relationships that China has established globally, underscoring its significance and the potential repercussions of its economic health on worldwide markets and economies.

Beroe View

While China is undoubtedly facing severe economic challenges, marked by geopolitical tensions, financial strains and a slowdown, it is crucial to approach the situation with a balanced perspective.

Given China's pivotal role and entrenched status in global supply chains, the current economic challenges and shifts in China have profound implications for the procurement function.

Risk Management: Procurement functions must intensify risk management strategies to mitigate disruptions arising from China's economic uncertainties, such as supply shortages or delays. Diversification of supply sources becomes crucial to reduce dependency on a single market, ensuring continuity in supply chains.

Cost Implications: The economic conditions in China can lead to fluctuations in the cost of goods and services. Procurement functions need to closely monitor cost structures and adjust budgets and forecasts accordingly.

Strategic cost management and negotiation will be pivotal to maintain cost-effectiveness and value in procurement activities.

Strategic Supplier Relationships: Maintaining strong relationships with key suppliers in China is essential to navigate through potential disruptions and secure preferential treatment. Open communication and collaboration with suppliers can help in understanding the challenges and working together to find mutually beneficial solutions.

Market Dynamics and Innovation: The shifts in China’s economic landscape can alter market dynamics, influencing product availability, pricing, and innovation.

Procurement functions should stay abreast of market trends and innovations in China to leverage emerging opportunities and maintain competitive advantage.

Sustainability and Compliance: With China being a significant player, any changes in regulations, sustainability practices, or compliance requirements can have a ripple effect on global supply chains.

Procurement functions must ensure adherence to evolving compliance standards and integrate sustainability into procurement strategies to meet corporate and global expectations.

Agility and Flexibility: The ability to adapt to changing circumstances in China’s market is crucial for maintaining supply chain resilience. Implementing agile and flexible procurement strategies can help in quickly responding to market changes and ensuring uninterrupted supply flow.


The entrenched status of China in global supply chains means that the procurement function must be proactive, strategic, and adaptive to navigate the complexities and uncertainties arising from China's economic landscape. By focusing on risk management, cost implications, supplier relationships, market dynamics, sustainability, and agility, procurement can effectively leverage opportunities and mitigate challenges, ensuring the resilience and sustainability of supply chains in a changing global context.

If you are interested to learn about how best Beroe can help your Procurement team to navigate current and future challenges, please write to: contactus@beroe-inc.com


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