ADB: Weak exports to weigh on Asia next year

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Economic growth throughout much of Asia next year will continue to be weighed down by weak export demand from major industrial economies and China, the Asian Development Bank said Friday.

The Manila-based lending institution said Asia's economies excluding Japan will grow 6 percent this year and 6.6 percent in 2013. Both figures are 0.1 percentage point lower than anticipated in October.

"Enduring debt problems and economic weakness in Europe and the looming fiscal cliff in the United States remain very real threats to developing Asia next year," said ADB Chief Economist Changyong Rhee.

Slower than expected growth in India, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan and the two largest Central Asian economies — Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan — slightly outweigh the more rapid expansion in some other economies in the region, such as the Philippines and Malaysia.

The ADB said China's rebound in industrial production means its economy should expand as anticipated — 7.7 percent in 2012 and 8.1 percent in 2013.

Weak external demand from major industrial nations and China continues to weigh down East Asia. The ADB revised growth prospects for the region from 6.5 percent to 6.4 percent in 2012, and from 7.1 percent to 7 percent in 2013.

Hong Kong's economy grew 1.3 percent in the third quarter from a year ago. South Korea grew 1.6 percent, its slowest growth since the third quarter of 2009. Mongolia grew a lower-than-expected 5.6 percent.

Overall growth in Southeast Asia to expected to reach 5.3 percent in 2012 and 5.5 percent in 2013. The top five regional economies — Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines — will continue to grow at 5.9 percent this year and 5.8 percent in 2013.

Domestic demand driven by private consumption and private and public investment is boosting Malaysia's economy. In the Philippines, the GDP growth beat expectations after accelerating to 7.1 percent in the third quarter, compared with 3.2 percent in the same period last year.

The bank said Thailand is expecting a strong rebound in the fourth quarter after last year's floods.

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