New trading era kicks off

The establishment of the Asean Economic Community means growth prospects for the new common market of 625 million people have never looked better. Rupali Karekar looks at what 2016 may have in store for five of the biggest economies of the 10-member bloc.

Indonesia

Indonesia has much potential but also many challenges

A Cabinet reshuffle, at least five stimulus packages, regulatory reforms and a thoroughly battered rupiah later, Indonesia emerged from 2015 with weak consumer spending and poor gross domestic pro-duct (GDP) growth.

This year will continue to be a challenge to South-east Asia's biggest economy, given falling commodity prices, resistance to reforms, failure to revive infrastructure investment and tighter global monetary conditions, said Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts.

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Malaysia

Negative factors continue to weigh on Malaysia

Last year was one that Malaysia will be keen to forget. Biggest trade partner China slowed down, global oil prices slumped, the new goods and services tax curbed consumer spending, and the 1MDB sovereign fund saga turned into a political scandal.

There will be more headwinds this year, say economists, with the same negative factors continuing to weigh on the economy.

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Thailand

Thailand's real GDP growth 'to rise only marginally'

The region's second-largest economy has yet to regain traction more than a year after the military seized power to end political unrest.

Exports and domestic demand remain stubbornly weak and, last week, its central bank added to the gloom by revising downwards the growth projection for this year - from 3.7 per cent to 3.5 per cent.

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Philippines

Philippines seen to post resilient growth of up to 6%

Impressive growth in The Philippines in recent years has prompted analysts to label the country the region's economic strongman.

Analytics firm IHS Global Insight upgraded the credit rating for South-east Asia's fifth-largest economy to positive and forecast that it would become a US$1 trillion (S$1.4 trillion) economy by 2030.

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Vietnam

Vietnam set for growth, with more investors expected

Last year ended on a good note for Vietnam, with economic growth quickening in the fourth quarter because of rising industrial output and record-high foreign investment.

There are expectations that this year could be as good or better.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2016, with the headline 'New trading era kicks off'. Print Edition | Subscribe