Japan’s economy barely grew in q4
Japan’s economy narrowly averted a recession in the final months of 2022, barely growing on frail consumption after shrinking in the third quarter, revised data showed, underscoring the challenge for policymakers trying to shore up a wobbly recovery.
Record high inflation and slowing global growth amid sweeping monetary tightening across many countries have undermined the world’s third-biggest economy’s post-pandemic revival, despite relaxation of COVID curbs, energy subsidies and ultra-easy monetary policy.
Businesses, under government pressure to increase wages to boost household consumption, are struggling to motor on in the face of muted demand at a time of crucial spring labour talks.
Japan’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by an annualised 0.1 percent in October-December, against a preliminary estimate of a 0.6 percent expansion and much lower than economists’ median forecast for a 0.8 percent rise in a Reuters poll. That followed a revised 1.1 percent contraction in July-September.
The expansion translates into an almost flat 0.02 percent quarter-on-quarter change, data released by the Cabinet Office showed, against a preliminary reading and economists’ estimate for 0.2 percent growth.
U.S. says it doesn’t want to separate its economy from China’s
The U.S. is pushing back on the idea it wants to suppress China and said it doesn’t want to separate the two economies, according to a State Department spokesperson’s comments. The spokesperson was responding to a CNBC request for comment on Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang’s remarks Tuesday. Qin claimed U.S. calls for “establishing guardrails” on the relationship meant that China should not react. Qin also said that the U.S. needed to “hit the brake” to prevent conflict with China. “We have made it clear we do not seek to contain China or have a new Cold War,” the U.S. State Department spokesperson said. The spokesperson pointed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s comments last year that said the U.S. doesn’t seek to stop China from growing its economy or “advancing the interests of its people.” “He also said we do not want to sever China’s economy from ours, though China is pursuing asymmetric decoupling,” the spokesperson said.
Pakistan has a bigger informal economy than Bangladesh, India
The Documented currency in circulation (CiC) has increased to over Rs. 8 trillion in Pakistan, representing the growth in the size of the economy and the use of cash to do business.
Meanwhile, total deposits with local banks have risen to Rs. 23 trillion, representing a CiC-to-bank deposit ratio of 34 percent which is higher than Bangladesh and India, and shows that Pakistan has a bigger informal economy than its South Asian counterparts.
As of 2022, Bangladesh has BDT (Bangladeshi Taka) 2.5 trillion CiC against total bank deposits of BDT 15 trillion, representing a CiC-to-bank deposit ratio of 16.7 percent. Meanwhile, India has INR 32 trillion in circulation and roughly Rs. 180 trillion in total bank deposits (17.8 percent).
Pakistan, Indonesia agree to enhance economic ties
Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has said that Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with Indonesia.
Mohammad Ishaq Dar held a virtual meeting with Sri Mulyani, Finance Minister of Indonesia, on Wednesday.
The Finance Minister while greeting the Indonesian Finance Minister highlighted profound historical and brotherly relations between the two countries. He expressed satisfaction over the magnitude of economic and trade and investment cooperation between the two countries.
Finance Minister of Indonesia Sri Mulyani emphasized deep rooted bilateral relation between both the countries and exchanged views to strengthen bilateral economic and trade relations with Pakistan. She also shared various economic reforms introduced by the Indonesian government and steps taken for achieving sustainable economic development.
The two sides discussed avenues of mutual cooperation in the economic and financial sectors to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.
Both the finance ministers agreed to extend full support to enhance the bilateral economic cooperation between both countries.
India can balance curbing emissions and economic growth
India is shifting toward greater renewable energy generation while striving to improve energy access, affordability, and security. It’s also poised to be one of the fastest growing economies in coming years, which will in turn sharply boost energy demand. Whether it meets those needs with fossil fuels or green alternatives has the potential to shift the trajectory of its greenhouse gas emissions for many more years to come.
India has made significant progress towards meeting its emissions reductions targets under the Paris Agreement, but with current policies total GHG emissions would nonetheless increase by more than 40 percent by 2030. While a modest increase in short-term emissions may be necessary to meet poverty reduction and energy security goals, a more rapid scaling up of current policies could help lower emissions considerably over the medium-term and bring India closer to a path to net zero by 2070.
Nepal MPs vote for new president amid political unrest
Nepal’s parliament members have lined up to elect a new president, the third since the Himalayan nation abolished a centuries-old monarchy and became a republic.
A total of 884 members of the federal parliament and provincial assemblies gathered in the capital, Kathmandu, on Thursday to vote for the new president. The final results are expected by Thursday night.
Both candidates in the presidential race are prominent career politicians.
Ram Chandra Poudel is a senior leader of the Nepali Congress party and previously served as the speaker of the House of Representatives.
His opponent, Subash Chandra Nembang of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), has also previously served as the speaker.
The national election in November last year left a hung parliament, leading to a fragile coalition government taking power.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s decision to support a candidate outside the coalition partners led to the alliance’s biggest party pulling its support. As a result, Dahal was forced to seek a confidence vote in parliament later this month.
Singapore says it’s willing to play the mediator between global economic rivals U.S. and China
Singapore’s top trade official said the city-state is willing to facilitate a dialogue between the US and China to repair their relationship, as he described growing tensions between the world’s biggest economies as detrimental to the world.
US-China tensions “have serious consequences for the rest of the world,” Gan Kim Yong, Singapore minister for trade and industry, told Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin in an interview Thursday. “Singapore as you know has always wanted to do business with both.”
Singapore’s economy relies heavily on trade and is vulnerable to shocks resulting from disruptions in commerce, especially involving China, the city-state’s No. 1 trading partner. The latest trade tensions stem from the US’s effort to clamp down on China’s access to critical semiconductor technology and to impose export controls.
“All of us are concerned and watching this development very closely,” Gan said, referring to the export controls. “Singapore’s interests and interests of the rest of the world are for the US and China to have a stable relationship as well as a constructive one,” he added.
Singapore and other Southeast Asian governments have been focused on building their relationship with the US around talks on the White House’s Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. While participants have celebrated renewed attention from Washington on the 10-nation region and its neighbors, that agreement has been under fire for being too focused along counter-China lines and bearing too little substance — especially with no market-access deals that the trade-reliant nations across Asia crave.
While the pace of Singapore’s economic expansion is expected to moderate to a sluggish 0.5 percent-2.5 percent this year, it’s confident of avoiding a recession amid a boost from China’s reopening.
Fallout of Sri Lanka’s economic crisis: long power cuts, food shortage
Sri Lanka is currently experiencing one of the most critical moments in its history due to years of economic mismanagement, weak governance and poor policy choices. Additionally, external factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have added to the country’s problems, resulting in its worst-ever crisis in 2022.
Sri Lanka is currently facing a multitude of crises, including food insecurity, threatened livelihoods and increasing protection concerns. The consequences of this crisis have been devastating, affecting people across the board, but the poorest and most vulnerable have been hit the hardest. To make matters worse, Sri Lanka is frequently affected by climate-induced disasters, which make the situation even more fragile.
In 2022, Sri Lanka’s familiar balance of payments problem got worse, leading to crippling shortages and painfully long power cuts. This led to a massive protest where people demanded better governance and ousted the Rajapaksas, who they held responsible for their suffering. Despite the change in leadership, the chant for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) support continued, demonstrating the severity of the situation.
These issues have far-reaching consequences, particularly for vulnerable communities and households, who are disproportionately affected by the ongoing crises. It is imperative that immediate action is taken to address these challenges, including ensuring adequate food supplies, stabilising markets, and supporting affected communities.
Malaysia extends rate pause as inflation cools, growth slows
Malaysia left its monetary settings unchanged for a second straight meeting on Thursday, as the central bank opted to weigh the impact of previous interest-rate increases on economic activity amid a challenging global outlook. Bank Negara Malaysia held its overnight policy rate at 2.75 percent, a decision seen by 11 of 20 economists in a Bloomberg survey, with the rest expecting a 25 basis-point increase.
Vietnam Jan-Feb exports down 10pc amid weak global demand
Exports from Vietnam, a regional manufacturing hub, fell 10 percent in the first two months of this year from a year earlier, as weakening global demand continues to bite into its shipments, government data showed on Thursday. Exports in the January-February period fell to $49.64 billion, the Customs Department said in a report, dragged by a decline in shipments garments, footwear and electronics, for which it supplies major global brands. The report showed imports in the two-month period fell 16.7 percent to $46.20 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $3.44 billion. Garment exports for January-February fell 19.6 percent from a year earlier to $4.55 billion, while footwear shipments declined 16.0 percent to $2.76 billion. Vietnam reported decade-high economic growth of 8 percent last year but economists have warned it faces challenges with weakening global demand. Taiwan’s Pou Chen Corp, the world’s largest maker of branded sports footwear and a top supplier to Nike and Adidas, plans to cut around 6,000 jobs in Vietnam this year due to slower demand.