January 24, 2014 / 7:42 AM / in 4 years

Weakness in Asian economies seen persisting in 2014, China weighs

BANGALORE (Reuters) - Emerging Asian economies will contribute less to global growth in 2014 than earlier expected even as their major trading partners in the West show signs of recovery, a Reuters poll showed on Friday.

From China to India, Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand, over 225 economists polled between January 16-23 have collectively downgraded or left unchanged growth estimates for nine of the top 13 economies in Asia outside Japan.

At a time when developed economies are expected to better last year’s growth rates, that implies Asia, the recent engine of world growth, may see its contribution diminish. <ECILT/WRAP>

“The days of double-digit growth are behind us, at least in the largest emerging economies,” said Dominic Bryant, global economist at BNP Paribas.

“It is reasonable to say China is slowing down as a result of repositioning itself to a domestic-demand driven economy. And since it makes up 50 percent of Asia, there is bound to be some knock-on effects around the region.”

After stunning the world by clocking over 10 percent growth on average for the last three decades, China took the bold step last year to wean itself off burgeoning credit and investments and instead change track to increase domestic consumption.

As a result, its growth rate has steadily dipped. Data this month showed the economy grew 7.7 percent in the last quarter of 2013.

Economists predict a 7.4 percent average growth rate this year, which would be the slowest expansion since 1990, and a further cooling to 7.2 percent in 2015.

Fears of a sharper slowdown in China topped investors’ concerns of prospective risks for this year, according to a survey of fund managers released by Bank of America Merrill Lynch this week.

Policymakers in Beijing, though, are unperturbed and say the modest slowdown is as expected and will likely continue.

But the change has affected countries that fuel China’s appetite for commodities. Australia has steadily seen its raw material related exports fall, in turn denting the economy.

The latest poll shows Australia’s A$1.5 trillion economy will expand by 2.8 percent in 2014 before picking up slightly to 3.0 percent in 2015. Still, that would be short of the 3.25-3.5 percent pace considered “normal”. <ECILT/AU>

India, too, another regional powerhouse, is expected to grow at a lackluster pace of 5.4 percent in fiscal year 2014/2015, as a result of the weak investment cycle gripping the country, which goes to elections this year.

Elsewhere in Asia, growth is expected to be tepid in 2014, with elections due in Indonesia, ongoing civil protests in Thailand, currency strength in South Korea and rising bond yields in developed countries pushing investors out of the region.


In the poll, forecasters stuck to their predictions of high inflation in the region, unlike in the West where some of the largest economies are experiencing rapidly slowing price rises which have raised fears of deflation.

Infrastructure bottlenecks in most countries are seen by analysts as the key reason Asia is unable to benefit from weak food prices globally.

Central banks in turn are expected to keep interest rates on hold in most countries in the survey, at least until the first half of the year. Key benchmark rates are expected to be hiked in Malaysia, Philippines and South Korea towards the end of the year.

A Reuters poll on Thursday showed 45 of 50 economists expect the Reserve Bank of India to stand pat on its key policy rates at its meeting on January 28. <RBI/INT>

Polling by bureaus across Asia; Editing by Kim Coghill

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