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REDEFINING US-ASEAN TIES
AMIDST THE RISE OF CHINA
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AseanAffairs Magazine
March - April 2010
CONTENT
 • ASEAN EDUCATION
• ASEAN MONEY
   • ASEAN TRAVELLER
INSIDE OUT
 • OPINION
• SPOTLIGHT  AUSTRIA
• SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING

The United States is facing daunting prospects in the Asia-Pacific region, a huge market for US goods, while China’s influence is growing as it makes rapid trade inroads in the region. The implications for the US and its need to redefine its ties with Asean are explored in our exclusive interviews with Ernest Z. Bower, Senior Adviser & Director - Southeast Asia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Founding Partner, Brooks Bower Asia LLC and former President of the US-Asean Business Council, and Demetrios Marantis, Deputy United States Trade Representative for Asia.

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INTRODUCTION

AUSTRIA THE HEART OF EUROPE

One of the 12 richest countries in the world in terms of GDP, Austria (Republik Oesterreich ) has a well-developed social market economy, and a high standard of living. Austria is closely tied to other EU economies, especially Germany’s. Its economy features a large service sector, a sound industrial sector, and a small, but highly developed agricultural sector.

Following several years of solid foreign demand for Austrian exports and record employment growth, the international financial crisis and global economic downturn in 2008 led to a recession that persisted until the third quarter of 2009. Austrian GDP contracted 3.6 percent in 2009 and it will probably see positive growth of nearly 1 percent in 2010.

The Austrian economy has benefited greatly in the past from strong commercial relations, especially in the banking and insurance sectors, with central, eastern, and southeastern Europe, but these sectors have been vulnerable to recent international financial instabilities.

Some of Austria’s largest banks have required government support - including in some instances, nationalisation - to prevent insolvency and possible regional contagion. Even after the global economic outlook improves, Austria will need to continue restructuring, emphasising knowledge-based sectors of the economy, and encouraging greater labour flexibility and greater labour participation to offset its aging population and exceedingly low fertility rate.

Until the 1980s, many of Austria’s largest industry firms were nationalised; in recent years, however, privatisation  

has reduced state holdings to a level comparable to other European economies. Next to a highly developed industry, international tourism is the most important part of the national economy.

Germany has historically been the main trading partner of Austria, making it vulnerable to rapid changes in the German economy. However, since Austria became a member state of the European Union it has gained closer ties to other European Union economies, reducing its economic dependence on Germany. In addition, membership in the EU has drawn an influx of foreign investors attracted by Austria’s access to the single European market and proximity to the aspiring economies of the European Union. Growth in GDP accelerated in recent years and reached 3.3 percent in 2006.

Economy at a Glance

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$323.1 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37
$335.2 billion (2008 est.)
$328.6 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$374.4 billion (2009 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

-3.6% (2009 est.)
2% (2008 est.)
3.5% (2007 est.)


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