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Country Forecast Asia May 2018

Country Forecast Asia May 2018

  • May 2018
  • ID: 359615
  • Format: PDF
  • By The Economist Intelligence Unit

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Political stability


The Economist Intelligence Unit expects Asia's political scene over the forecast period (2018-22) to be dominated by China's president, Xi Jinping, and India's prime minister, Narendra Modi. Both are the strongest leaders of their countries in decades and will retain power throughout the next five years. In 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections will be held simultaneously for the first time in Indonesia, and we expect the incumbent president, Joko Widodo, to secure a second term. Japan poses the biggest question mark among the "big four". We expect the Liberal Democratic Party to remain in power, but the embattled prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is likely to be replaced as its leader. Elsewhere, the Liberal-National government in Australia is one of the few set to lose power, although this is partly because polls in many other places in the region, such as Cambodia, will not be held in a fair environment. Slow progress will be made towards peace on the Korean peninsula following a constructive inter-Korean summit-the first in more than a decade-in April 2018.


Economic outlook


We forecast that real GDP in Asia and Australasia will grow by an average of 4.2% a year in 2018-22, down only marginally from 4.3% in 2013-17. The outlook is broadly positive across the region, despite a more pronounced slowdown anticipated in China in 2021-22. Growth will be underpinned by solid economic expansions in that country and in India. Despite its deep structural constraints, Japan's economy will also achieve its longest streak of economic growth since the 1980s. South Asia will be the fastest-growing subregion, although this will be from a relatively low base. Growth in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) will be solid at 4.7% a year on average in 2018-22.


Business environment rankings


The divide between the business environment in the best-performing countries in Asia (such as Singapore) and the worst (such as Pakistan) will remain huge. Vietnam and Indonesia will make the most progress in enhancing their business environment scores in 2018-22, with the former surpassing China in our rankings. India's environment will also improve as infrastructure invest-ment rises and foreign-investment regulations are liberalised, but its global rank will be steady. Free-trade agreements between several countries in the region will help to reduce barriers to trade and investment. The ASEAN Economic Community will also promote integration within the bloc, although the implementation of pending policy initiatives will remain uneven.









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