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Safeguarding Asia’s Growth

SEOUL – Emerging Asian countries should be proud of their economic resilience. Despite a global economy plagued by weak growth, persistently high unemployment, and heavy debt loads, the region’s emerging and developing economies grew at an average annual rate of 6.8% from 2000-2010, propping up global output and buttressing recovery efforts.

The region’s success has been underpinned by dynamic growth in China and India, which account for almost 60% of the continent’s total GDP in purchasing power parity terms. Furthermore, economic-policy changes and structural reforms that were enacted in the wake of the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis significantly reduced the region’s vulnerability to financial shocks over the past decade.

But Asia cannot be complacent: financial systems remain fragile; economies are burdened with high fiscal and current-account deficits; and Asia remains too heavily dependent on North American and European export markets, increasing its vulnerability to external shocks.

Moreover, if conditions in the eurozone continue to deteriorate, Asia could be more severely affected. Already, spillover effects from trade and financial transmission channels are beginning to take their toll: China’s GDP growth rate in the second quarter of 2012 averaged 7.6%, reflecting a significant slowdown, and India’s growth rate is expected to decline to roughly 6% this year.