IMF warns of downside risks for Asian economy amid trade tensions

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WASHINGTON: Asia is expected to grow at 5pc in 2019 and 5.1pc in 2020, with risks to the projection still skewed downward, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) official said.

“In line with the slowdown of global growth, the growth in the Asia Pacific region is expected to be the slowest since the global financial crisis in our context of prolonged global uncertainty,” Changyong Rhee, director of IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, said during a press conference at the 2019 annual meetings for the IMF and the World Bank.

Noting that the global economy is experiencing a synchronized slowdown amid trade and geopolitical tensions, Rhee said Asia is no exception to the trend and was hit hard by this trend.

“Given how open the Asian region is, how dependent on trade and investment and manufacturing and so forth, it is completely unsurprising that Asia would also experience a very significant slowdown in 2019 and 2020,” Jonathan Ostry, deputy director at the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, told Xinhua.

Ostry said trade tensions have not only caused the direct effect of tariffs, but there are also effects on confidence on financial markets, and “these effects take a toll on investment and growth.”

In China, growth is expected to decline moderately to 6.1pc in 2019 and 5.8pc in 2020, according to the IMF’s newly-released World Economic Outlook. “This will reflect China’s ongoing transition to a more sustainable growth model and the negative impact on ongoing trade tensions,” Rhee said.

In Japan, the economy is projected to grow at 0.9pc in 2019 and to moderate to 0.5pc in 2020. In India, the economy is expected to grow at 6.1pc in 2019, picking up to 7pc in 2020.

Despite this slowdown of growth, Asia “remains the most dynamic region” in the world, accounting for more than 70pc of the global growth this year, Rhee said.

“The main policy priority is to address the cause of policy uncertainty and restore the lines on the multilateral trade system,” Rhee said. “Meanwhile, near term policies should support growth where necessary but also safeguard financial and fiscal stability.”

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