Wed, Oct 10, 2012 - Page 15 News List

IMF slashes growth forecast for Asia

STICKING TOGETHER:An IMF report said that as a consequence of the deepening of linkages in the region, China’s slowing growth has affected other Asian nations

AFP, HONG KONG

A street vender walks in a street in Hanoi, Vietnam, yesterday. According to the World Bank’s forecast, Vietnam’s economic growth is about 5.2 percent this year, and 5.7 percent next year. The Bank also forecasted Vietnam’s GDP as well as East Asia countries’ GDP would be lower compared with previous forecast.

Photo: EPA

The IMF yesterday cut its growth forecasts for developing Asia, blaming a slowdown in Europe and the US, and warned that China’s attempts to boost its economy had not taken hold.

It also scaled back its forecast for Japan, saying disaster reconstruction spending would tail off and lead to weaker growth next year.

The IMF’s World Economic Outlook comes at the beginning of a week that will see it and the World Bank hold their annual meetings in Japan. The G7 also meets this week.

It also reinforces concerns expressed by the World Bank on Monday and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) last week as they cut their own regional forecasts, citing global weaknesses.

The IMF said growth for developing Asia would come in at 6.7 percent this year and 7.2 percent next year. That compares with July’s estimate of 7.1 percent this year and 7.5 percent next year.

“Compared with the region’s growth performance in recent years, the near- and medium-term outlooks are less buoyant,” the report said.

“This view reflects weaker anticipated external demand resulting from the tepid growth prospects in major advanced economies and a downshift in China’s and India’s growth prospects,” it said.

It warned that a worsening of the eurozone debt crisis and failure by US lawmakers to avert a possible “fiscal cliff” could fuel problems.

China’s economy, a key driver of regional growth, will see just 7.8 percent expansion this year, the IMF said, but 8.2 percent next year as easing measures kick in.

Both figures are lower than the July forecasts of 8 percent and 8.5 percent.

“Slowing growth in China has affected activity in the rest of Asia, a consequence of the deepening of linkages throughout the region in the past decade,” it said.

It said “a return to double-digit growth in China [is] unlikely” as the country’s leaders try to shift from an export-driven economy to one balanced with domestic demand.

The numbers are well down from the 9.3 percent surge last year and 10.4 percent in 2010.

Japan is tipped to see 2.2 percent growth this year thanks to spending on post-tsunami work, but that would ease to 1.2 percent next year.

In July, the IMF forecast growth of 2.4 percent for this year and 1.5 percent next year.

India is seen growing 4.9 percent this year and 6 percent next, with the IMF blaming “stalled investment caused by governance issues and red tape, and a deterioration in business sentiment” as well as a weakening rupee.

However, IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard told reporters in Tokyo yesterday he did not see China and India suffering a hard landing.

“Indeed we see positive policy measures being taken ... but they suggest lower growth for some time, lower than we have seen in the recent past,” he said.

Blanchard said efforts to cut deficits were clearly needed, but added: “This is a marathon not a sprint.”

On Monday the World Bank slashed its growth forecast for developing countries in East Asia and the Pacific to 7.2 percent this year, dragged down by what it said would be China’s worst performance for 13 years.

The ADB on Wednesday last week reduced its estimate for Asia’s emerging economies to the lowest level since 2009, while also warning of significant risks from problems in Europe and the US.

Slowing exports were also blamed by the IMF for weaker growth in three of Southeast Asia’s five biggest developing economies — Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

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