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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        17  March 2011

Asia expects solid growth

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Asia is poised for another year of solid growth in 2011 even if the impact of the killer earthquake and tsunami on Japan remains unclear, according to Standard and Poor's.

"We expect the region to record another year of solid growth in 2011 after 2010 proved that Asia is emerging from the (global financial) crisis in a strong position, even as the economic picture for Japan following the recent earthquake remains less clear,' said Tom Schiller, a senior regional analyst yesterday.

"But growth presents a unique set of challenges for policymakers, officials, and investors across the Asia-Pacific region,' he said.

However, growth for the region with the exception of Australia and New Zealand is expected to moderate slightly from last year because of ongoing worries over the United States and euro-zone economies, Standard and Poor's said.

Inflationary pressure is a key concern for the region, which faces the prospect of tighter monetary policies as authorities seek to temper price rises, it said in its twice-yearly regional outlook.

"Rising prices stem in part from rapid growth and the easy credit conditions that the region's governments put in place to support their economies during the global financial crisis," the credit ratings firm said.

"We expect the region's central banks to continue to tighten monetary policy this year." That means central banks will raise interest rates to fight inflation.

Standard and Poor's also said regional central banks may also consider further capital control measures and other actions to prevent risky asset bubbles.

China is projected to grow 9.1 percent to 9.6 in 2011, lower than last year's 10.3 percent and this is expected to impact the rest of the region, Standard and Poor's said.

"Chinese authorities are adopting measures to rein in expansionary monetary policy to help combat rising inflation, escalating asset prices, and higher wage inflation," it added. "We expect these tightening measures are likely to prune money supply and credit growth in 2011. Slowing growth in China is likely to drag on growth around the region, in our view, with many nations beginning to post softer growth numbers."

Japan, which is struggling to cope with the devastation wrought by a magnitude nine earthquake and tsunami on Friday, that triggered a crisis at a nuclear power station, is seen as growing 1.3 percent to 1.8 percent.

The world's third largest economy expanded 4 percent last year.

South Korea's economy is projected to grow 4.3 percent to 4.8 percent from 6.1 percent in 2010. Within South-East Asia, Singapore's growth is to moderate sharply between 4.5 percent and 5 percent. from 14.5 percent last year, Malaysia is seen expanding 4.8 percent to 5.3 percent and Indonesia to grow 5.9 percent to 6.4 percent from 6.1 percent.

The Philippines is expected to grow 5.1 percent to 5.6 percent this year from 7.3 percent and Thailand's economy will ease to 4 percent-4.5 percent from 7.8 percent

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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