Economic: After a contraction in its economy in the last quarter of 2009, the island republic of 5 million people became the world’s fastest growing economy in the first half of 2010, with a growth rate of 17.9 percent. The country is judged to have the best quality of life in Asia and has the ninth largest foreign reserves globally. It is always high on the list of global competitiveness and business friendliness. The World Bank also lists Singapore as #1 in logistics.
The economy is reliant on exports and refining imported goods, as well as manufacturing, which constitutes about a quarter of its GDP and includes electronics, petroleum refining, chemicals, mechanical engineering and biomedical sciences sectors. To insulate itself against downturns in exports, the government has successfully boosted tourism.
Tourism and medical tourism are important to Singapore. To stimulate tourism, two casinos have been opened and tourist arrivals have soared and reached a record high in August for the ninth consecutive month. Gambling revenues may exceed those of Las Vegas as early as 2012. The casinos may stimulate a real estate boom and attract more conventions to Singapore. The Singaporean government remains concerned about the long-term social impact of the casinos.
Political: Since the first election in 1959, the People’s Action Party (PAP) has been the dominant party. The current prime minister is Lee Hsien Loong. He is the eldest son of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Kwa Geok Choo, thus Singaporean politics resembles a family dynasty at this point.
Working under a parliamentary system, Singapore has rejected some of the liberal values of western countries, claiming that these values would undermine its multiracial population. Thus in its constitution, personal, religious and speech freedoms are somewhat limited. However, Singapore has the least corruption of any government in Asia and is quite transparent.
Social: With a history as a major port, Singapore has a wide ethnic and racial mix. The population has the sixth-highest percentage of foreigners in the world. Approximately 42 percent of the population are foreigners, and foreigners make up 50 percent of the service sector.
In 2011: The economy.
Economic: The Philippines economy grew by 7.9 percent in the first half of 2010 and is expected to achieve at least a 7 percent growth rate by the end of the year, according to the International Monetary Fund. The Philippines is among the Asean countries that have seen domestic demand growing as well as an increase in investment and foreign direct investment (FDI). The Philippines appears to be Asean’s second fastest growing economy, behind Thailand, in 2010.
The Philippines’ main trade partners are Japan and the United States. The main exports are semiconductors and electronic products, transport equipment, garments, copper products, petroleum products, coconut oil and fruits. The growth of low-wage competitors, including Asean members Cambodia and Laos, are threats to Philippine exports as well as global competitiveness. Other difficulties the Philippine economy faces are a growing number of power outages and the need for infrastructure improvement. It cannot be overlooked that remittances from Philippine workers employed abroad are an important part of the economy.
With a growing population, the Philippines has also had to continue to import its basic food, rice, this year due to poor growing conditions.
Political: The big event in 2010 was the election of Benigno “Noynoy” S. Aquino III as the Philippines president. A few weeks after his inauguration, the tour bus hostage crisis developed and tarnished the new president’s image. The new president also broke with the Catholic Church and promised to give access to birth control to the poor and stated that every Filipino family should have the right to birth control.
Social: The current population of the Philippines is about 92 million, making the country the 12th most populous country on the planet. With its large population there are many problems such as poverty, corruption, lack of job opportunities and high crime rates.
In 2011: Any inroads that Aquino can make on any of these problems (above) will be a plus for the country. His academic background in economics and the quality of his cabinet may aid him. The energy demands of a large population and a growing economy may also be difficult problems to solve.
Economic: Vietnam continues to transit from a centrally planned economy to a market-driven model. The World Bank calls the country’s poverty reduction and economic achievements “one of the most spectacular success stories” in development.
Agriculture is the backbone of the economy. Vietnam’s economic growth rate will finish at more than 6 percent, and in 2011 the GDP is expected to top at more than 7 percent. The country’s interest rates, among the highest in the world, are also a problem, with the communist government trying to find an answer. Banks often charge small and medium firms above 14 percent a year. Private industry accounts for about 30 percent of the manufacturing sector.................................
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