China's economic growth has become a key factor not only for itself but for world markets. As the scale of China's impact is still frequently underestimated it should be noted that, measured in current dollars and at market exchange rates, i.e. in terms of actual effective demand, in the three years following the start of the international financial crisis China contributed 33.4 per cent of global market growth – more than four times as much as the US 8.1 per cent (Table 1). While final data for 2011 is not yet available, it is already clear from the first three quarters figures that China's market last year expanded by over $1 trillion – approximately twice as much in dollars as the US, despite US growth having resumed. Table 1 makes clear no other economy has approached China in terms of market/global aggregate demand expansion.
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It is therefore a key question whether China will continue essentially the same scale of market growth in 2012. The answer is ‘yes' - but because of the issue's importance the reasons should be clearly outlined. Interlinked with this is the decisive role played by developing economies in recovery from the financial crisis – the interlinking being that China is by far the largest developing economy, while the developing economies have become China's largest trade partners.
In the three years covering the period from the beginning of the international financial crisis to the latest available annual data, i.e. in 2007-2010, developing economies accounted for 78.6 per cent of world market growth and developed economies for only 21.4 per cent. Considered from another angle, simply taking different classifications, either the BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China), or China plus Latin America, contributed the majority of world market/effective demand expansion – either of these groupings accounting for more than twice as much market expansion as the developed economies.
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Turning to more detailed trends, the first feature determining China's continued dominant position in world market expansion, one the consequences of which are insufficiently frequently noted, is that as China's economy becomes larger a similar percentage yearly growth necessarily turns into an increasingly large annual absolute market increase - in inflation adjusted terms, China's economy expanded by 2.3 trillion RMB in 2008, 2.4 trillion RMB in 2009, and 3.1 trillion RMB in 2010.
But even these frequently cited constant price growth figures underestimate the expansion of China's position in the world market.