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‘Southeast Asia will be less export dependent by 2017’



Phnom Penh: Southeast Asia's growth will remain resilient over the next five years as stronger investment and private consumption reduce dependence on exports for expansion, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said.

Europe's sovereign debt crisis and a slowdown in advanced economies have had a "limited" impact on Southeast Asian nations with most of the effect experienced through trade, the Paris-based OECD said in a report released in Phnom Penh yesterday.
The region, along with China, may face risks stemming from volatility of capital inflows in the medium term, it said.

The prospects for developing Asian nations contrast with the fiscal and demographic challenges faced by more advanced economies, as higher public spending and younger populations support domestic demand and lure investment even as global expansion weakens.

Increased government expenditure on social safety nets and health will encourage household spending and reduce the need for precautionary savings in emerging Asia, according to the latest OCED report.

"A combination of cyclical factors, government policies, and longer-term shifts in economic structure that have supported consumption growth over the past several years are likely to continue to underpin its growth over the medium term in Southeast Asia, China and India," the OECD said in its 2013 outlook for the region.

Governments in Southeast Asia have loosened fiscal policies to spur growth. Philippine President Benigno Aquino is increasing spending to a record and seeking more than $16 billion of investments in roads and airports, while Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is also boosting outlays.

Foreign investment
The region's growth prospects are helping attract overseas companies, with Japan's foreign direct investment in Southeast Asia surpassing that in China, according to Japan External Trade Organisation's figures using finance ministry data. Japan's investment in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations more than doubled to $19.6 billion in 2011 from the previous year, while that in China was $12.6 billion, according to the organisation.
Fiscal deficits in most Southeast Asian nations will narrow through 2017, leading to an improvement in public debt levels as a percentage of gross domestic product, the OECD said.

Indonesia's growth will outperform its neighbours, with a 6.4 per cent annual rate of expansion from 2013 to 2017, the OECD estimated, equal to that recorded in the two decades before the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the OECD said.

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