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Why China's role as global economic savior is under threat

By Irene Chapple, CNN
July 12, 2013 -- Updated 1416 GMT (2216 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Where can the world find growth? A CNN panel hosted by John Defterios discussed the global economy
  • Participants said China would not grow at its explosive rate again, but other economies were also weak
  • The panel was held in St Petersburg, Russia, a country which has suffered from falling commodity prices
  • Turkey was pointed to as an economy which has potential despite recent protests

St Petersburg (CNN) -- China will never grow at its explosive rate again but India is yet to match its GDP output, Russia is lagging and Turkey's potential is being leached by political turbulence, according to participants in an economic panel hosted by CNN's John Defterios.

So where can the world expect to find growth? The panel, held during June's St. Petersburg International Economic Forum -- known as Russia's "Davos" -- explored the issue with experts.

CNN's guests were Hakan Ates, president and ceo of DenizBank; Emilio Lozoya, ceo of PEMEX; Charles Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital; Vladimir Yakunin, president of Russian Railways and Nikolai Zelenski, ceo of Nordgold.

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Between them, the panelists represented countries from the BRICs, and other countries tagged as ones to watch.

Robertson kicked off the conversation with his blunt assessment of the world's potential to be dragged out of its mire by China.

The country, whose economy was last year flagged to become the world's biggest by 2016, has slowed and expectations for its growth downgraded.

Robertson said the country "will never again grow at a sustainable 10%." But the BRIC's other true pillar -- India -- cannot yet match its potential, he added.

Russia and Brazil are the other two nations that fall under the BRIC acronym, coined by former Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neill, and they are struggling.

Russia has been reliant on commodities but prices have been falling in recent months -- and impacting the country's growth prospects.

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Yakunin's role as head of the country's railways affords him a birds-eye view of the country's investment potential. And he pointed to the need for investment in the real economy, rather than just financial services, to boost growth and create jobs.

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But, as Yakunin noted, the much-vaunted diversification of the economy has proved difficult for Russia to tackle.

According to Zelenski, a lack of infrastructure investment is also the key problem in Russia.

Talking business in Russia

Further, he argues the country did not put away enough when the times were good, unlike China.

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Vladimir Putin's rise to power

Meanwhile in Turkey, which is not a BRIC nation but has enjoyed a buoyant economy despite the turmoil of countries around it, faces a rockier path to EU membership after the government's heavy-handed approach to the protestors.

During the keynote panel at the forum, Germany chancellor Angela Merkel said she was "shocked" at the reaction to the protests and questioned if it was the right time for Turkey to join the European Union.

The diplomatic hiccup comes after years of strong growth by Turkey under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's hand.

According to Ates, the protests were not against economic pain, given the country's strong record of growth. But, when asked if Erdogan had been in power too long, he noted people needed to express themselves to secure democracy. "We will see at the next election if it has been too long," he added.

Turkey should see cause for hope, Ates said. He sees a "promising and favorable" landscape for investors in Turkey, with a well educated population. "The human capital is there...but we still have to do more."

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Lozoya said Mexico was another economy with significant potential due to its natural resources and proximity to Latin America.

According to Lozoya, there is "huge potential" in areas such as manufacturing and petro-chemicals, and the chance to feed hungry markets Latin and North America.

However, Lozoya said, Mexico mustn't fall back on protectionist policies. "we have a good momentum," he added.

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