World Economy

SE Asia Posts Strong Growth in 2017

SE Asia Posts Strong Growth in 2017SE Asia Posts Strong Growth in 2017

Robust exports on the back of a strong global economy generated high growth performance in 2017 for many countries in Southeast Asia. All but one of the region's six major economies posted higher growth than in the previous year.

Gross domestic product in Indonesia, the region's largest economy, grew 5% last year. Thailand grew 3.9% and Malaysia 5.9%. Vietnam's economy expanded by 6.8%, the highest figure in a decade. But the pace of growth in the Philippines slowed slightly, compared with the previous year, NHK News reported.

Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore saw higher exports of manufactured products. They benefitted from the strong economies of the US and China. Indonesia reported increased exports of farm and fisheries products.

Southeast Asia's export values grew by double digits on a monthly basis for every month in 2017 except June.

Analysts say Southeast Asia is expected to maintain strong economic conditions this year as well. But they warn investors might start pulling their money out of the region if the US quickens its pace of interest-rate hikes.

Such investment has been supporting growth. They say an outflow of funds could trigger instability.

Meanwhile, renewable energy will play a critical role in driving growth and expanding energy access in Southeast Asia, the International Renewable Energy Agency said.

Southeast Asian countries are poised to meet their aspirational RE target of a 23% share in the region’s primary energy mix by 2025, the intergovernmental organization noted.

This will also improve the availability of affordable clean energy in line with the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.

Meeting the region’s increasing power consumption via fossil fuels alone will come at the expense of energy security, IRENA noted, as indigenous reserves are already depleted or are unable to meet demand.

“With Southeast Asia’s vast, untapped renewables potential, considerable opportunities exist to accelerate renewables deployment in the power sector but also in heating, cooling and transport,” the organization said.

Strong enabling and investment frameworks have to be instituted to overcome hurdles, it added.

IRENA noted that the majority of Southeast Asian nations had set RE targets and adopted relevant policies, with Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam having made advances in terms of policy maturity and comprehensiveness.

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