January / February 2001
China's economic growth to grow by 7-8% in 2001
The governor of China's central bank recently predicted economic growth of between seven and eight percent in 2001 and ruled out any change to foreign exchange rates this year.
"The Chinese economy is projected to grow at seven or eight percent this year. The price level is projected to stay stable. That's why the exchange rate for the renminbi (Yuan) will also remain stable for this year," said Dai Xianglong.
However, during a news conference held by the State Council, China's cabinet, Dai also suggested the currency regime which effectively pegs the yuan to the dollar will become more flexible following the country's admission to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
According to preliminary figures, China's gross domestic product (GDP) growth reached 8 percent last year, which was the first time since 1992 that the growth rate had accelerated. The growth rate was 7.1 percent in 1999.
Japanese economy plunges in competitiveness rankings
Japan's over-regulated economy plunged to 16th place last year from third in 1990 in potential competitiveness ranking of 31 OECD and Asian nations in a study released recently which put the US in top spot.
The small number of highly educated graduates and the low level of technology infrastructure meant the Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan are all better equipped than Japan to seize the information technology revolution, the new study by the Japan Centre for Economic Research said.
"The weakness in this field might affect future competitiveness fatally," the centre warned.
"Potential competitiveness is not a result of economic growth but competitiveness for the future," the centre noted.
"For example, high educational standards, and adequate infrastructure means high potential competitiveness."
The survey, commissioned by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun economic daily included rankings for eight categories: international trade and finance, corporations, education, domestic finance, government, science and technology, social infrastructure, as well as IT.
The US topped the overall ranking with Singapore rated second, and Hong Kong was fifth. South Korea was 23rd, one place behind Italy. China was ranked 27th, while the Philippiness took the wooden spoon out of the 31 countries.
The most competitive European country was the Netherlands in third place, followed by Finland. Norway, Sweden, Australia, Britain and Switzerland made up the lower five of the top ten.
Tourism grows in Singapore
Singapore tourism officials have forecast an optimistic 6 to 8 percent tourism growth for the year despite an expected global travel retreat resulting from a US economic slowdown.
The Singapore Tourism Board said recently it had taken negative economic indicators into account when predicting a record number of more than eight million overseas visitors.
"We are making a cautious projection based on the global forecast that predicts the US economy may be headed for a slowdown," tourism board chief executive Yeo Khee Leng said.
"Increases in oil prices and political situations in our key markets are some of our concerns as they affect travel patterns."
Last year a record 7.6 million visitors arrived in Singapore, spending an estimated 4.5 billion Singapore dollars (2.6 billion US).
Operators of Singapore attractions said the figure was seen as a remarkable two year turn around from the 6.2 million arrivals in 1998 following the Asian economic crisis.
Indonesians and Japanese dominated Singapore's tourist figures, while arrivals from Britain, Malaysia, China, South Korea, India and Hong Kong also showed double digit growth last year.
Environment technology market grows in Asia
Asia's 22 billion US dollar environment technology industry is projected to grow 15 to 20 percent annually to meet the needs of the region's burgeoning population, a Singapore official said recently.
The next 20 years will see a rising demand for services, products and technologies to deal with new environmental problems, said Peter Chen, senior minister of state at the ministries of education and trade.
"With 36 of the world's largest cities located in Asia, housing over 2.3 billion people in towns and cities by 2020, (ET) environment technology is rapidly becoming one of the fastest growing industries in the region," he said.
Singapore is prepared to be a "springboard" for companies aiming for a share of the regional market, he said at the opening of a research and development centre and manufacturing facility for integrated water treatment firm Hyflux.
More than 200 environment technology companies operate from the island state, may of them from Europe and the United States, but Chen said homegrown firms develop solutions best suited for Asian conditions.
Japanese economy recovering
Japan left its key economic assessment unchanged in a January report saying that Tokyo was still on a path towards a full recovery, led by the brisk corporate sector.
"Activities on the whole continue to rise modestly", the Cabinet Office, formerly known as the Economic Planning Agency, said in the report submitted to prime Minister Yoshiro Mori recently.
"The strength is seen mainly in the corporate sector, where the autonomous nature of the recovery has become increasingly evident," the government office said.
The Cabinet Office has maintained the same assessment, largely seen as Japan's official verdict on the economy, for three consecutive months.
In the report, the office upgraded slightly its analysis on housing construction and public sector investment, but Cabinet Office economist Haruhito Arai downplayed the significance of these developments.
Asia will ride out us slump
Asian counties should ride out the expected US economic slowdown this year, although Thailand and the Philippines remain susceptible to recession, according to a regional survey released recently.
The survey of economic analysts, government officials and businessmen in nine Asian cities asked how local economies would react to a US slowdown.
US economic growth this year is forecast to only rise about two percent, hitting the gross domestic product figures for Asia's tech heavy. Export oriented economies.
But the Sunday Times poll found most respondents did not believe that the slowdown would lead to a recession and economies would pick up in the second half of the year.