Productivity Growth of the Nontradable Sectors in China

Little is known about the total factor productivity of the nontradable sectors in China. In this paper we estimate productivity growth of the nontradable sectors by studying the relative price movements of the nontradable sectors vis-à-vis the tradable sectors, i.e. changes in the internal real exchange rate. We find that prices of the nontradable sectors have risen significantly faster than those of the tradable sectors since China’s accession to the WTO, and as a result China’s internal real exchange rate has appreciated faster than the renminbi real effective exchange rate. We also find that the nontradable sectors have seen much lower productivity growth than the tradable sectors. We argue that it is important to raise China’s productivity growth in the nontradable sectors through policy actions to achieve growth rebalancing and containing inflationary pressures in the medium run.

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