LONDON, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- China is transforming to slower but probably better quality growth, Jim O'Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, has said.
His comment came as China reported falling imports and lackluster growth in exports for August, the latest set of worrying data to come out of the world's second-largest economy.
"China's trade data was quite concerning especially the weakness in imports. China is supposed to be transforming away from the old model and consume more. Part of the hope is that China would import more from the rest of the world," O'Neill told Xinhua in a recent interview.
The Chinese economy continues to slow down and Beijing's target of 7.5 percent growth now seems likely for the year, he said, adding the days of 10 percent growth are probably over and that China is transforming to slower but probably better quality growth.
China is transforming its economic growth toward a more balanced direction, from export- and investment-driven growth toward a more domestically centered model based on internal consumption, rising incomes, and environmental sustainability, and from "Made in China" to "Created in China," he said.
"Whether China can make this transformation is the biggest question the world faces. As we can observe, it is not so easy," O'Neill said.
The Chinese need more confidence to raise consumption and a stronger support mechanism in terms of healthcare and pensions and less corruption, he said, adding that the good news is that policymakers realize all of these and will keep trying to improve things.
He believed that "by 2015 China will be closer to have adjusted but it will not be a smooth straight path."
When it comes to other BRIC economies, the economist who coined the BRIC acronym in 2001, said "Russia has positively surprised in 2012 so far, while Brazil and especially India has disappointed. They all need reforms on the supply side, especially India."
"If India doesn't introduce new policies to attract more FDI, India could return to the years of slow growth. If it does, then it will do better. I am more encouraged about Brazil as it is making supply side changes now."
"For all the BRIC countries this decade, they will grow on an average 6 to 7 percent as opposed to 9 percent," he said.
O'Neill said "the BRICs remain the biggest drivers of the world despite softer growth and by 2015 they will collectively be bigger than the United States."
"Their contribution to global GDP will be more than the U.S. and Europe (in) this decade," he added.