Asia's prospects bright, provided it maintains peace and stability: PM Lee

Asia's prospects for economic growth remain positive, provided the region continues to be peaceful and stable, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday. -- PHOTO: AFP
Asia's prospects for economic growth remain positive, provided the region continues to be peaceful and stable, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday. -- PHOTO: AFP

Asia's prospects for economic growth remain positive, provided the region continues to be peaceful and stable, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday.

Speaking in Seoul at a lunch with South Korean business leaders, Mr Lee said Asian countries are pursuing closer economic integration regionally and globally, and are expected to outgrow the rest of the world again next year.

"So all in all, the outlook for Asia is bright, provided we have peace and stability in Asia," he said at the lunch, which was organised by the Korea International Trade Organisation.

Mr Lee also expressed Singapore's admiration for South Korea's quick economic recovery after the global financial crisis.

"I remember during the global financial crisis, how vigorously your government... went about reinforcing your position and buttressing yourself against the waves and the storms that would come - working out swap arrangements, stabilising your economy domestically, cooperating with other countries in the region," he said.

Now, South Korea has established many economic strengths, Mr Lee added. These include its "world-class companies, innovative start-ups, bright young people" and also the country's "significant soft power", in the form of Korean pop music and Korean drama, which have gained popularity worldwide.

Singapore, too, is "making steady progress" in constructing a "high-quality living environment" for its people and a pro-business climate for both local and foreign companies, Mr Lee said.

But the nation's society and economy are in transition, as it adapts to a more mature economic phase and new social needs, he added.

Still, Singapore "remains a good place for companies to do business", and Mr Lee urged Korean companies to use it as a base to gain access to markets in South-east Asia, South Asia and even Australia.

Mr Lee will meet President Park Geun Hye on Wednesday afternoon before leaving for Japan on Thursday.