Trade war, Brexit could slow developing Asia’s 2019 and 2020 growth: ADB

China’s economy will probably grow 6.3 percent this year, the Asian Development Bank said. (AP)
Updated 03 April 2019

Trade war, Brexit could slow developing Asia’s 2019 and 2020 growth: ADB

  • Developing Asia, which groups 45 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, is expected to grow 5.7 this year
  • The 2019 forecast represents a slight downgrade from ADB’s December forecast of 5.8 percent

MANILA: Growth in developing Asia could slow for a second straight year in 2019 and lose further momentum in 2020, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Wednesday, warning of rising economic risks from a bitter Sino-US trade war and a potentially disorderly Brexit.
Developing Asia, which groups 45 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, is expected to grow 5.7 this year, the ADB said in its Asian Development Outlook report, slowing from a projected 5.9 percent expansion in 2018 and 6.2 percent growth in 2017.
The 2019 forecast represents a slight downgrade from its December forecast of 5.8 percent. For 2020, the region is forecast to grow 5.6 percent, which would be the slowest since 2001.
“A drawn out or deteriorating trade conflict between the People’s Republic of China and the United States could undermine investment and growth in developing Asia,” Yasuyuki Sawada, ADB’s chief economist, said in a statement.
The lender also cited uncertainties stemming from US fiscal policy and a possible disorderly Brexit as risks to its outlook because they could slow growth in advanced economies and cloud the outlook for the world’s second largest economy.
“Though abrupt increases in US interest rates appear to have ceased for the time being, policy makers must remain vigilant in these uncertain times,” Sawada said.
China’s economy will probably grow 6.3 percent this year, the ADB said, unchanged from its December projection, but slower than the country’s 6.6 percent expansion in 2018 despite recent government stimulus measures including more tax cuts and increased state spending on infrastructure.
Growth in the Chinese mainland is projected to cool further to 6.1 percent in 2020.
Beyond trade risks, the ADB said China’s growth will also be retrained by restrictions on shadow banking, which is expected to limit credit expansion even as fiscal stimulus provides some offset.
“I should emphasize although the government would like to stabilize growth, it wouldn’t want to push up the growth rate as in previous years when you saw a big stimulus package, like in the period of 2008-2009,” said Jian Zhuang, senior economist at ADB in Beijing.
Chinese banks may still remain reluctant to lower lending costs for companies partly on worries of rising risks of corporate defaults in a slowing economy. The central bank could take further actions, such as cutting the benchmark 1-year lending and deposit rates, the ADB said.
China has set its 2019 economic growth target at 6.0 to 6.5 percent.
By region, South Asia will remain the fastest growing in Asia Pacific, with the ADB predicting an expansion of 6.8 percent this year — lower than its previous forecast of 7.1 percent — and 6.9 percent next year.
From an estimated 7.0 percent growth in 2018, India’s economy is projected to expand at a faster pace of 7.2 percent in 2019 and 7.3 percent in 2020, the ADB said, as lower policy rates and income support to farmers boost domestic demand.
This year’s growth forecast for Southeast Asia was trimmed to 4.9 percent from an earlier estimate of 5.1 percent, as the Manila-based lender expect Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Thailand to grow slower than previously thought.
Next year, Southeast Asia is predicted to grow 5.0 percent.
Citing stable commodity prices, the ADB lowered its average inflation forecast for developing Asia to 2.5 percent this year from 2.7 percent previously, and it is expected to remain subdued at 2.5 percent in 2020.


Lebanon plunged into ‘deliberate depression’: World Bank

Updated 01 December 2020

Lebanon plunged into ‘deliberate depression’: World Bank

  • The fall 2020 edition of the Lebanon Economic Monitor predicted the economy will have contracted by 19.2 percent this year
  • Lebanon’s economy started collapsing last year as a result of years of corrupt practices and mismanagement

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s economy is sinking into a “deliberate depression,” the World Bank said Tuesday in a damning report stressing the authorities’ failure to tackle the crisis.
The fall 2020 edition of the Lebanon Economic Monitor predicted the economy will have contracted by 19.2 percent this year and projected a debt-to-GDP ratio of 194 percent next year.
“A year into Lebanon’s severe economic crisis, deliberate lack of effective policy action by authorities has subjected the economy to an arduous and prolonged depression,” a World Bank statement said.
Lebanon’s economy started collapsing last year as a result of years of corrupt practices and mismanagement.
The crisis was made worse by a nationwide wave of anti-government protests that paralyzed the country late last year and the Covid-19 pandemic this year.
The August 4 Beirut port blast, one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, brought the country to its knees and further fueled public distrust.
“Lebanon is suffering from a dangerous depletion of resources, including human capital, with brain drain becoming an increasingly desperate option,” the World Bank warned.
In 2020, Lebanon defaulted on its debt, banks imposed capital controls and inflation has reached triple-digit rates, dragging the country into its worst ever economic crisis.
Instead of taking emergency measures to rescue the economy, Lebanon’s political elite has continued to dither and bicker.
The previous government headed by Hassan Diab failed to adopt ambitious policies to tackle the crisis. It resigned under pressure over the blast nearly four months ago and a new cabinet has yet to be formed.
“Lack of political consensus on national priorities severely impedes Lebanon’s ability to implement long-term and visionary development policies,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank regional director.
He called for the quick formation of a new government capable of implementing short-term emergency measures and addressing long-term structural challenges.
“This is imperative to restore the confidence of the people of Lebanon,” he said.
An annual index compiled by Gallup that tracks people’s experience of stress and sadness said “no other country in the world saw negative experiences skyrocket across the board as much as Lebanon.”
The Negative Experience Index’s data was collected before the Beirut port blast, Lebanon’s worst ever peace time disaster.