China's WTO Updates
Cheap Labour Fuelling Growth

China's high-quality but relatively cheap labor force will allow the country's economy to maintain its rapid growth in the coming decade, an industry expert predicted yesterday.

China's economic scale is expected to increase threefold by the end of 2020, as the advantages brought by the country's labor force continue to build, said Lu Zheng, director of the Institute of Industrial Economics under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Lu made the remarks yesterday at the Forum of the Fourth Shanghai International Industry Fair held by the Shanghai Economic Commission.

Economic experts from the United States and Japan also joined the forum to discuss the prospects of the Chinese economy.

According to statistics from the academy, there are at least 2.5 million college students, more than 60 percent of whom are studying science and technology. These well-educated youths are expected to enter the country's labor market incrementally in the coming years.

Meanwhile the average labor costs of industries in China are only 5 percent of those in developed countries like the United States, Japan and Germany, said the statistics.

"No other country can provide such a huge number of cheap educated laborers," noted Lu.

Such a "comparative advantage" will last at least two decades and contribute to the country's further economic growth, according to Lu.

Lu urged domestic multinational companies to take advantage of China's high-quality technicians by setting up more research and development (R&D) programs in the country.

China's total R&D expenditures in 2000 totaled US$10.7 billion and accounted for 1 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) that year. This is equaled by the annual R&D investment of Germany-based Siemens alone, according to academy statistics.

(China Daily November 7, 2002)

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