Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

World Bank Sees Solid East Asia Growth Despite Global Rout

  • Risks to economic outlook in region elevated, World Bank says
  • China growth forecast left unchanged at 6.7% for this year

Growth in developing economies in East Asia is holding up despite tough global conditions and a slowdown in China, according to the World Bank.

The Washington-based lender lowered its growth forecast for this year for developing East Asia and Pacific countries only marginally to 6.3 percent from 6.4 percent, it said in a report on Monday. Growth is set to ease from an estimated 6.5 percent in 2015, it said.

World Bank: East Asia-Pacific Growth Remains Resilient

While developing nations in East Asia -- from Indonesia to China -- have benefited from careful economic policies, global risks are considerable and threaten the region’s outlook, the lender said. Among these are a slowdown in high-income countries, the slump in exports and financial market volatility.

“Policy makers have less room to maneuver,” Sudhir Shetty, chief economist of the World Bank’s East Asia and Pacific region, said in a statement. “Countries should adopt monetary and fiscal policies that reduce their exposure to global and regional risks, and continue with structural reforms to boost productivity and promote inclusive growth.”

China Outlook

For China, the World Bank is forecasting 6.7 percent economic expansion this year, unchanged from its October estimate. Excluding China, the region’s economy is projected to grow 4.8 percent this year, up from 4.7 percent in 2015 and 0.1 percentage point lower than previously predicted.

China is slowly moving toward more sustainable growth with less reliance on industrial exports, Shetty told reporters via video from Washington. At the same time, the economy is creating a substantial number of jobs, partly because some manufacturers are moving production to other parts of China instead of lower-cost countries, he said.

“Many jobs are moving across China, away from the coastal areas,” he said. “The quality of infrastructure is orders of magnitude better than those in other countries, and it helps compensate for the higher wages.”

In Southeast Asia, the biggest downgrades in growth forecasts were for Indonesia and Malaysia, both commodity exporters. Indonesia’s estimate for 2016 was lowered by 0.2 percentage points to 5.1 percent, while Malaysia’s was cut by 0.3 points to 4.4 percent.

The largest forecast upgrade was for Thailand, with the World Bank now projecting expansion of 2.5 percent this year, up from 2 percent in the earlier report.

With developing nations in East Asia and the Pacific accounting for about 40 percent of world growth in 2015, the global economy is too reliant on the region to drive demand, Shetty said.

“It’s not good to have a plane flying on one engine,” he said. “The global economy would be much better off with multiple sources of growth.”

2015 growth2016 growth estimateChange in 2016 growth estimate  from October
Developing East Asia and Pacific6.56.3-0.1
China6.96.70.0
Indonesia4.85.1-0.2
Malaysia54.4-0.3
Philippines5.86.40.0
Thailand2.82.50.5
Vietnam6.76.50.2
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