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East Asian Economic Outlook for 2006
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by IDE Asia

The East Asian economy (excluding Japan) is projected to grow by 7.0% in 2006, according to a report released today by the Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization (IDE-JETRO). The report, entitled "2006 Economic Outlook for East Asia", provides growth estimates for 2005 as well as prospective 2006 growth figures for China, the four Asian NIEs (the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), the Republic of Korea (ROK), Singapore and Taiwan) and the ASEAN 5 (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam).

Estimated Growth in 2005

According to the report, the East Asian economy as a whole is predicted to post a 6.9% growth in 2005, down 0.6 points from last year's figure; the combined inflation rate is estimated to decline 0.3 points year-on-year to 4.0%. This slight decline in the area's economy reflects stagnant economic growth in developed countries and a global slowdown in demand in IT and other high-tech industry sectors during the first half of 2005.

Although domestic demand slowed somewhat, China's economy, driven by growth in net exports, is projected to grow a robust 9.5% in 2005, the same figure as last year.

The combined growth rate for the four Asian NIEs in 2005 is estimated at 4.3%, a 1.4-point drop from last year's figure. Individually, ROK and Taiwan are estimated to grow at slower paces in 2005, at 3.7% and 3.6% respectively, due to weaker external demand. Hong Kong SAR and Singapore-after posting strong growth in 2004-are also estimated to grow at slower, yet steady, paces in 2005, at 7.0% and 5.4% respectively.

The combined growth for the ASEAN 5 in 2005 is estimated at 5.3%, a 0.7-point drop from the 2004 figure. Vietnam, on the back of the country's booming industrial and service sectors, is estimated to post the highest individual growth figure among the five, at 8.3%. Indonesia, led by buoyant external demand, is projected to grow at 5.5%, while Malaysia's growth rate is estimated to slow to 5.0% in 2005, due to weakened private sector demand. The Philippines is predicted to grow at 4.8%, supported by overseas remittances, while Thailand is estimated to grow at 4.6%, owing to the Thai government's aggressive fiscal policy.

Forecasted Growth in 2006

According to the IDE-JETRO report, the East Asian economy as a whole will post solid growth of 7.0% in 2006. China's economy may slow somewhat, while growth is expected to pick up in the ASEAN 5 and four Asian NIEs; the combined inflation rate is forecast to remain almost unchanged (from the projected 2005 figure), at 4.1%.

China's economy, which is expected to remain buoyant in 2006, is forecast to grow 9.0%, down half a point from this year's projected growth figure.

The combined growth rate for the four Asian NIES will recover to 4.9% in 2006, up 0.6 points from the projected 2005 figure. ROK and Singapore, fueled by brisk investment and increased exports, are expected to post growth figures of 5.0% and 5.7 respectively. Taiwan, despite stagnant investment, is forecast to grow at 4.1%, led by increased exports. Reflecting a slowdown in the Chinese economy, Hong Kong SAR is projected to mark only moderate growth, at 5.4%, in 2006.

The report predicts a stable 5.4% growth for the combined economies of the ASEAN 5 in 2006-roughly the same as the projected 2005 figure. Individually, Indonesia is forecast to grow at 5.4% (close to the projected growth figure for 2005). Thailand will mark solid growth in 2006, adding 0.4 points year-on-year to reach 5.0%, boosted by the government's aggressive fiscal policy. Malaysia is forecast to grow at 5.4%, driven by a recovery in exports and private-sector investment, while the Philippines, backed by a recovery in investment, is predicted to grow at 5.0%. The Vietnamese economy, although a slight slowdown is forecast, will still grow a robust 8.0% in 2006.

View the full report at: click here

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