The center of global economic growth is moving from the West to Asia. Over the last 30 years, the Asian economy has grown by over 7 percent each year, doubling in size every decade. This success has been based in large part on outward-oriented growth strategies. But, there is growing awareness that Asia’s export-led growth needs to be balanced by a second engine of growth. How to achieve this rebalancing is a key theme of a new book from the IMF, launched in Hong Kong, on Rebalancing Growth in Asia—Economic Dimensions for China.
Continuing my travels through Asia for the launch of our latest Regional Economic Outlook: Asia and Pacific, I am writing to you today from Singapore. Last week, I wrote about the near-term outlook for Asia. Today, I turn to the key medium-term challenge—an issue emphasized by G-20 ministers over the weekend—the need to rebalance economic growth. For much of Asia, this means shifting away from heavy reliance on exports by strengthening domestic sources of growth. While much of the discussion on this issue has focused on ways to increase consumption, the role of investment is equally important and should not be overlooked.
I am in Asia this week to launch our October 2010 Regional Economic Outlook: Asia and Pacific (REO) in Jakarta and Singapore. As I have inevitably found during visits to Asia over so many years, the mood here is confident about future economic prospects. Yet it is also watchful for risks that may be lurking over the horizon. This mood matches closely the main messages of our current assessment of the outlook for the region. In the first of several blogs posts from the region, here I reflect on the self-sustaining recovery under way across Asia, the risk external risk factors and, the pressing issue for Asian policymakers, policy options for managing the tide of large capital inflows.
Achieving a “strong, balanced, and sustained world recovery”—to quote from the goal set in Pittsburgh by the G-20—was never going to be easy. It requires much more than just going back to business as usual. It requires two fundamental and complex economic rebalancing acts: internal and external rebalancing. These two rebalancing acts are taking place too slowly. As the latest World Economic Outlook reveals, the result is a recovery which is neither strong, nor balanced, and runs the risk of not being sustained.
Asia’s leadership of the global recovery is continuing unabated. The IMF now expects GDP in Asia to grow by about 7¾ percent in 2010 (up about ½ a percentage point from what was envisaged in April), before easing to about 6¾ percent in 2011. And, even though the downside risks to growth have intensified, the region is well equipped to handle them.