- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 24, 2007

SHANGHAI (Agence France-Presse) — A booming economy will lift China to second place behind the United States as the world’s biggest consumer market by 2015, a research report said yesterday.

Consumption in the Asian giant is expected to make up 14.1 percent of the total among major world economies in 2015, surpassing that of Japan and Germany, Britain and Italy, according to a report by the Credit Suisse bank.

The United States, which last year accounted for 42 percent of global consumption, will account for 37.7 percent by then, the report said.

China’s consumption last year made up 5.4 percent of the global total, putting it on par with Italy, but behind Japan at 11.1 percent, Germany at 7.3 percent and Britain at 6.6 percent, the report said.

Credit Suisse forecast China’s consumption to move in behind the United States and Japan by 2010.

However, the survey also revealed that despite economic growth of 10.7 percent last year, budgeted and actual spending on many consumer items declined in 2006 compared with the previous year.

It also said personal income grew at a slower pace when compared with China’s rapid economic expansion, profit growth of the nation’s enterprises and government tax-revenue growth.

China’s regulators are eager for the nation’s 1.3 billion people to consume more in an economy that still relies heavily on investment and exports for growth.

Chinese retail sales rose 14.7 percent in the first two months of 2007 compared with a year earlier, a level of growth regarded as relatively strong, but one that regulators would like to see higher.

Consumers in China are often reluctant to spend freely because of the crumbling welfare state that forces many people to save any extra money for basics such as education and health care.

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