China will today set a target for its economy to grow at around 5% of GDP in 2024, effectively on par with 2023, an official working paper released today said, among the slowest rates announced in decades.

This goal will be formalized later in the day during the proceedings of the National People’s Congress, the Chinese parliament. It is quite close to analysts’ forecasts.

To achieve this, Beijing aims to run a deficit of 3%, up from 3.8% last year.

At the same time, the goal for inflation is to hover around 3% and for employment to create 12 million jobs in the cities, so that the unemployment rate does not exceed 5.5%.

China’s council will hear Premier Li Chiang’s first debriefing speech later this week.

China’s economy grew at a rate of 5.2 percent in 2023. The growth target this year will be harder to meet as the boost provided by the lifting of pandemic restrictions wanes, Western analysts say.

The real estate crisis, deflation, the rapid decline of the stock market and the debts of local governments are causing headaches for the Chinese political leadership, which has to make decisions to guarantee the long-term development perspective.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts that China will grow at a rate of 4.6% this year and that its economy will slow further in the medium term, to about 3.5% in 2028.