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Asian Economy: Overview, Growth & Development

Asian Economy: Overview, Growth & Development
China’s 11.6m graduates face a jobs market with no jobs

With a master’s degree in applied linguistics from one of Australia’s top universities, Ingrid Xie did not expect to end up working in a grocery store. But that was where she ended up after graduating from the University of Queensland in July last year.

Xie did her undergraduate degree in China, studying English in the shade of palm trees at Hainan Tropical Ocean University. She went abroad for her master’s because she thought that would help her find a better job.

But after working at a Korean supermarket in Brisbane for several months after graduating, in February she decided to return to her home city of Kunming, in the south-west province of Yunnan, to find a job as an English teacher.

Xie soon discovered that “a lot of people studied abroad and want the same thing”. She says a friend in the same city recently sat an English teacher recruitment test, along with about 100 other people. Her friend did not get the job.

Youth unemployment in China hit a record high in April, with 20.4 percent of 16- to 24-year-old jobseekers unable to find work. Xie is 26 and has not managed to find a job in China since leaving higher education. “It makes me really frustrated,” she says.

India’s economy picks up speed amid global slowdown

India’s economic growth has accelerated to 6.1 percent in the January–to-March quarter, boosted by government and private capital spending even as private consumption remained sluggish, government data shows.

Wednesday’s reading showed India remains one of the fastest growing emerging economies, especially with China’s post-pandemic recovery stumbling.

Despite risks emerging from a global slowdown, the government expects growth to be about 6.5 percent for the current fiscal year, which began on April 1.

“The risks are evenly balanced between the downside and the upside,” V Anantha Nageswaran, chief economic adviser at the finance ministry, told reporters after the data were released.

He said indicators such as car, steel and power consumption for April showed a pick-up in activity and a sustained growth momentum.

Asia’s third-largest economy expanded faster than a forecast of 5 percent expected by economists questioned for a Reuters news agency poll in the last quarter of the 2022-2023 fiscal year, up from a revised 4.5 percent in the previous quarter.

How entrepreneurs and policymakers shaped Bangladesh’s resilient growth trajectory

There is an interesting anecdote about Bangladesh’s first prime minister, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. In the early days of independent Bangladesh, a foreign journalist asked Rahman what the country’s number one problem was. Without blinking his eye, the leader replied, “We actually have two number one problems: food shortage and huge population.”

This witty but profound response highlighted the need to work on several fronts at once. Even in the trying times just after independence, when much of their attention was on the urgent need for relief and rehabilitation, the political leaders and economic managers of Bangladesh had started to think about long-term development imperatives.

Bangladesh’s first decade, the 1970s, was largely a period of recovery from the dislocations of the 1971 War of Independence. Economic growth was poor and unstable. But the foundations of long-term growth were being laid. The results were soon evident. The economy started growing at a steady rate from the early 1980s onwards, and has accelerated in more recent years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bangladesh registered one of the most resilient growth performances in the world. According to the IMF, Bangladesh’s economy is expected to grow by 5.5 percent in the current fiscal year and by 6.5 percent in the next.

China’s Sichuan province signs deals with Indonesia

Seeking to strengthen economic, trade and people-to-people relationships, China’s Sichuan province has signed agreements with Indonesian businesses, noting that the two countries share great potential to expand on some of their most crucial sectors including infrastructure, agriculture and renewable energy. Eight agreements centering on coal, lithium hydroxide, lithium carbonate, herbicides, konjac rice, coconut products, logistics and a green plant-protection project were endorsed during the Sichuan-Indonesia Economic and Trade Conference in Jakarta on Monday. These agreements, according to Chinese Communist Party secretary for Sichuan, Wang Xiaohui, will hopefully fortify the relationship between Indonesia and China, which has so far enjoyed mutually beneficial and “solid” collaboration.

Japan considers official security clearance system

The government aims to set up an official clearance system for accessing classified information related to economic security as it seeks to strengthen cooperation with allies including the U.S. and help private businesses win contracts abroad.

Economic Security Minister Sanae Takaichi said she wants to submit a security clearance bill by next year’s parliamentary session at the latest. Without a law in place, Japanese companies risk missing out on highly sensitive contracts including those with overseas allies in areas like cutting-edge chip technology and cybersecurity.

“We must get legislation for this,” Takaichi said in an interview on Tuesday in Tokyo. “This is going to be a major law and will have an impact on business opportunities. Without this, Japanese companies can’t make major inroads in these areas,” she said without naming companies that could benefit.

Wealth of Malaysia’s 50 richest on forbes list edges up to US$81.6 billion

Despite a dip in the stock market, the collective wealth of tycoons on the 2023 Forbes list of Malaysia’s 50 Richest edged up to US$81.6 billion from $80.5 billion last year. The complete list can be found, as well as in the June issue of Forbes Asia.

After rising 8.7 percent in 2022 on the back of a rebound in domestic consumer spending, Malaysia’s economy is expected to grow at a more moderate pace this year. Despite the country’s post-pandemic revival, the stock market fell 8 percent since fortunes were last measured and the ringgit was also down nearly 2 percent.

Business titan Robert Kuok, who will be a centenarian in October, is Malaysia’s richest person, a position he has held for more than a quarter of a century. Kuok, the biggest gainer in dollar terms this year, is one of only two persons on the list with a double-digit fortune of $11.8 billion. The other is Quek Leng Chan, executive chairman of the Malaysian arm of the privately held Hong Leong Group, who is at No. 2 with $10.2 billion.

Overall, 19 fortunes were up and nearly half were down. Despite being in the latter category, metals magnate Koon Poh Keong and his siblings remain in third place. Their combined wealth of $5.8 billion is down nearly 7 percent from $6.2 billion last year, in line with the fall in shares of their company Press Metal Aluminium Holdings, Southeast Asia’s largest integrated aluminum producer, amid higher raw material and freight costs. Taking the fourth spot is Ananda Krishnan of Maxis, whose net worth rose $400 million to $5.4 billion.

Energy, economic, infra to be discussed during PM Modi, Nepal PM talks

Economic, energy, and infrastructure will form an important part of the agenda during the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ today, with special focus on deepening the power sector cooperation through new initiatives.

This is the first bilateral visit of Prime Minister Prachanda to India, after assuming office in December 2022.

Previously, he visited India twice in 2016 and in 2008 in his capacity as Prime Minister of Nepal.

During the bilateral talks, both sides will build on the successes achieved by India and Nepal in the bilateral partnership during previous high level visits [Prime Minister Deuba to New Delhi (April 2022) and Prime Minister Modi to Lumbini (May 2022).]

Engagement between the two Prime Ministers will be an opportunity to discuss the entire gamut of the multifaceted relationship between India and Nepal.

Transforming the civilizational ties between the two countries with multi-dimensional connectivity—economic, energy, and infrastructure will form an important part the agenda.

Philippines’ crackdown on anonymous sim cards prompts backlash

Like millions of other Filipinos, John Aguilar, 18, missed the April 26 deadline set by the government for registering his mobile phone under his own name.

Aguilar is not sure he will meet the extended deadline of July 26 either.

“I have no ID and I don’t know how [to register],” Aguilar told Al Jazeera.

Aguilar said he and his older brother tried to get an ID from their barangay, or village, but were refused after they were unable to provide proof of voting during last year’s presidential elections.

Manila is requiring all SIM card holders to register their name under the SIM Card Registration Act that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr signed into law last year with the stated aim of thwarting cybercriminals responsible for fraud, trolling and hate speech.

But the government’s effort is proving to be fraught in a country where it is not uncommon to lack officially recognised IDs.

In April, Secretary Ivan John Uy of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) reluctantly extended the deadline for registration while taking aim at “hardheaded” Filipinos who were slow to register.

Uy threatened those not in compliance with being cut off from social media sites such as Facebook and TikTok, saying, “Sometimes, you know, that’s the only language that some of our countrymen can understand.”

Sri Lanka unveils first rate cut in two years

Cash-strapped Sri Lanka on Thursday sharply cut interest rates for the first time since it last year crashed into its worst economic crisis, with the central bank saying the country was showing signs of recovery.

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka reduced the benchmark lending rate by 2.5 percentage points to 14 percent, a day after official data showed inflation had tumbled to 25.2 percent last month, from 35.3 in April.

It said the monetary board arrived at the decision to “ease monetary conditions in line with the faster than expected slowing of inflation.”

The reduction is the first since July 2020, when rates were lowered by one percentage point.

As the economic crisis worsened, the central bank began raising rates from early 2022 with a record 7.0 percentage point hike in April last year, a week before the government defaulted on its $46 billion foreign debt.

The bankrupt nation secured an International Monetary Fund bailout in March and received the first instalment of $330 million out of a $2.9 million loan spread over four years.

The central bank said the economy was showing signs of a rebound, after a record 7.8 percent economic contraction last year as the nation faced its worst foreign exchange crisis.

Sri Lanka ran out of cash to pay for even the most essential of imports leading to shortages of food, fuel and medicines.

The then-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who faced allegations of mismanagement, was forced to flee the country and resign in July after months of protests.

The central bank, in its latest review of the economy, said inflation was expected to fall to single figures by the end of the year, having peaked at 69.8 percent in September with food inflation hitting nearly 100 percent.

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