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Asean Affairs  30 December 2010

Asean ends the year

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     30 December 2010

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Asean ends the year on an upbeat note.

Vietnam, the Asean country that appears to be having the most difficult time with its economy saw that economy recover and GDP increased by 6.7 percent in the context where the world economy was facing instability after global recession.. However, high increases in consumer price index due to market fluctuations affected production and people’s living standards. In other words, inflation continued to be a major issue in Vietnam.

Other Asean countries, as well as China, had the same issue but used various methods to control it such as taxing foreign bond purchases or raising reserve requirements in the banking system. In Asean’s largest economy, Indonesia, analysts warned that inflation may force the central bank to raise its key rate next year, making borrowing costlier. Experts weighed in the year’s end and expressed the belief that China could also control its inflation.

Other than the unexpected resignation of the Laos prime minister in December, politics in Asean countries was relatively stability, particularly after the red shirt protest in Bangkok ended on May 19 in a dramatic and bloody manner. As the year ends, Thailand looks forward to an election in 2011 with the hope that “national reconciliation” will occur, however, there is no guarantee of that happening.

Benigno Aquino III came to power in the Philippines and brought with them new policies, one of them being family planned as he challenged the Catholic hierarchy in that country to move forward on the issue.

Malaysia embraced a new economic policy, including major infrastructure projects that Prime Minister Najib Razak hopes will move the country out of its economic stagnation.

Singapore was the world’s top performing economy in 2010 and although its growth rate in 2010 is unlikely to repeat itself in the coming year, the goal will be to keep the economy on track. The phenomenal success of its casino industry bolsters its economy. Revenue from that industry is expected to top the revenue generated by Las Vegas in 2012.

Indonesia’s economy continues to move forward, however, its infrastructure is problematic and could stand some planning and investment. Jakarta is the world’s largest city without a public mass transportation system and the airport needs expansion or replacement.

Look for Asean to continue to be a center of dynamic growth in 2011 as the 10-member community draws a year closer to the 2015 start-up of the Asean Economic Community.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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