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Asia Minute: Regional Economic Health Depends in Part on Politics

Tracy O / Flickr
Tracy O / Flickr

President Trump talked about economic growth in his address to a joint session of Congress. Figures out Tuesday showed the U.S. economy grew at a rate of 1.6 percent last year—its weakest performance since 2011. In Asia, the latest economic figures continue to show faster growth—but the future carries some question marks. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


Australia dodged a bullet this week.

Figures out Wednesday morning local time show a slight bounce for Australia’s economy in the latest quarter—allowing the country to avoid consecutive negative quarters...the definition of a recession.

Earlier this week, India confirmed its position as the fastest growing major economy in the world—7 percent growth in 2016.

The Philippines grew nearly that fast.

China’s official growth rate was also just under 7 percent…its slowest growth in 26 years.

Vietnam grew a little more than 6 percent, Indonesia about 5 percent.

That was nearly twice the growth rate of South Korea while Japan barely managed positive growth—1 percent for the year.

As the calendar turns to the last piece of the first quarter, government and private forecasters expect growth in Asia to continue, but with several risks and questions.

China’s economic health may be the biggest one, but another huge question concerns trade.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development echoes many in pointing out that growth in regional trade has been declining and could be under further threat. Especially if protectionist policies increase in key markets—starting with the United States.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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