China: Predictions for the Year of the Horse

As China enters its new year, the year of the horse, the world’s second largest economy finds itself at a cross roads, both domestically and on the global stage.

At Today Translations, we have sourced what some of the most respected business commentators are predicting for the Middle Kingdom over the course of the coming year, in regards to economic growth, social reforms, trade and technology.

Economic growth

For the first time in three years, there are no expectations of a slow-down in China’s economic growth, with a growth rate of between seven and eight per cent forecast.

With the price of the US Dollar and British Pound rising, we can also expect to see a greater degree of Chinese exports arriving on western shores, as well as increased foreign investment and participation on the mainland.

New reforms

With the leadership transition reportedly now complete, President Xi Jinping, China’s current leader, is ready to implement a number of economic and structural reforms, transforming China into a healthier, more consumption-driven economy. (The path is set, with last year seeing strong sales in cars and luxury brands.)

This requires robust capital markets, with investors keenly anticipating the reopening of IPOs onto China’s financial market. Capital has already been amassed in the country, but circulating that capital remains imperative if China’s seeks to make the transition to a “more market-driven, consumption-led economy”.

A more business friendly environment

Increased crackdowns on corruption will be accelerated with more prosecutions for malpractice expected in 2014, signalling that China will place a stronger emphasis on integrity and accountability within business.

As Bloomberg reporter Michael Silverstein writes: “Success will become much more about what you know rather than who you know.”

Cross-border M&A into China

With many Western economies still recovering, China has arguably become the most attractive investment market.

Expect a surge in cross-border deals with China’s industrial and consumer sectors this year – in particular private and foreign participation in logistics.

As mentioned, the Chinese consumer will continue to grow this year, and acquisitions offer foreign companies a quick foot into the market, a fast means of gaining in scale and distribution networks.

Forbes’s China correspondent Jack Perkowski writes that the dream of “large China M&A market may finally become a reality in 2014”.

Surge in Green Energy

China is serious about curbing its emission rates, so expect a number of green energy initiatives to take off this year.

Despite being on its last legs at the turn of the decade, China’s solar panel industry has quickly bounced back over the past two years. That trend is expected to continue thanks to decreasing prices in solar energy, increased innovation and, with it, efficiency.

McKinsey also expects increased efforts into launching a real Chinese electric car market this year.

Change in the social media landscape

Consensus seems to ring that Sina Weibo, once at the forefront of Chinese social media, has been pushed off its perch by WeChat, which has become the social network of choice among China’s internet addicts.

With its close tie-ins with e-commerce and an active user base of 500 million people within China (plus another 100 million outside), WeChat presents fantastic opportunities for foreign brands seeking an online presence in China.