Prospects for Asia bright despite weak global growth this year: Lim Hng Kiang

 Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang addresses delegates at the Singapore Summit on Friday. PHOTO: MARISSA LEE
Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang addresses delegates at the Singapore Summit on Friday. PHOTO: MARISSA LEE

SINGAPORE - Global growth has been dissapointing this year, but Asia's growth prospects are still bright in the long term, said Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang.

"Notwithstanding the current challenging macroeconomic conditions, the long-term Asian growth story remains bright," Mr Lim said in a speech to mark the opening of the annual Singapore Summit on Friday (Sept 18) night.

Mr Lim noted that a China slowdown is perhaps the biggest concern for most investors, but added that the Chinese government has made "some progress" in restructuring its economy away from investment and export-driven growth, towards consumption-driven growth.

"As private consumption becomes the primary driver of demand in China, the country will also emerge as a leading source of final demand in the global economy," he told a gathering of about 500 global business leaders, investors and government officials.

Mr Lim also emphasised growth opportunities in the rest of Asia.

"Many countries in the region have favourable demographic trends and a fast expanding middle class," he said.

Mr Lim dwelled on the importance of regional economic integration to "unlock" Asia's growth potential.

He named two such ongoing "mega" regional initiatives: the Trans Pacific Partnership deal, a free trade agreement (FTA) that includes 12 Pacific Rim countries; and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which aims to deepen Asean's linkages with its six FTA partners.

Among the highlights of the three-day Singapore Summit is a dialogue with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday, to be moderated by DBS chief executive Piyush Gupta.

On Sunday, a closed-door roundtable will be held for the international advisors of the MAS, Economic Development Board, GIC and Temasek Holdings.

marilee@sph.com.sg