East Asia and Pacific
The issue of China-Africa engagement has been in the headlines this week as leaders from China and from across the African continent gathered in Egypt for the Fourth Heads of State Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) where Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced China’s latest round of
The World Bank’s latest economic assessment of developing countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, released a week ago, came to some interesting conclusions and attempted to answer a lot of questions on a complex subject. Notably, the report’s authors pointed to the major role China has played in the region’s swift rebound from the crisis.
While IFC is strengthening its involvement in India, China is deepening its economic ties in Africa.
Hurricanes, typhoons, and flooding -- some of the extreme weather conditions that the finalists tackled in their projects -- upset the plans of several international competitors to come to the DM2009 competition in Washington.
The longest delay was encountered by Nidia Matamoros (photo at left), a member of the Miskito indigenous group in Nicaragua, whose home was flooded by Hurricane Ida. From start to finish, Matamoros logged 102 hours from the time the first leg of her flight was originally scheduled to leave Managua's airport -- Nov. 5 -- to her arrival at Reagan Washington National Airport at 1 a.m. Monday morning, Nov. 9.
'I'm proud, I'm excited, I'm happy," Matamoros said at the orientation session that opened the four-day DM2009 program Monday afternoon. "This is the first time the Miskito communities have participated so fully in such an event."
Summing up her marathon journey, Matamoros said, "It's too much. I need a siesta."
The project she's working would would establish Maya Nut "food forests" in Miskito communities to produce up to 5 million pounds of food worth US$3 million to improve the nutrition of as many as 2,500 Miskito children. It would also restore wild game, including deer and fish, and protect 30 miles of rivers from flooding and erosion.
* * *
Philippines finalist Eugenio Manalo decided not to accompany his project's team to Washington so he could stay behind and work on relief for those hit by four typhoons in the late summer and early fall that caused extensive flooding and loss of life.
Belize finalist Lisel Alamilla, facing poor road conditions in the southern part of her country, had to arrange for a flight via a chartered single-engine Cessna from Punta Gorda to Belize City's airport to get her connecting flight to Miami. She produced a handwritten receipt for reimbursement.
|There is a great deal of passion surrounding the subject of tiger conservation, and there was a great deal of energy at the recent Global Tiger Workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal. (Photo courtesy of catlovers under a Creative Commons license.)|
I’m writing this in Kathmandu, Nepal, at the end of the Global Tiger Workshop, the latest event leading up to the Tiger Summit expected to be held late next year in Vladivostok. This process all began with the major launch of the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) in Washington, DC, in June 2008, and direct engagement with the tiger range countries on the issue of illegal wildlife trade really took off in Pattaya, Thailand, in April this year with ASEAN-WEN and other partners.
This was no ordinary World Bank-facilitated meeting inasmuch as National Geographic filmed the event, and it included a kilometer-long, elephant-led parade of children calling for the conservation of tigers. The GTI team keyed into the Asian and global media through op-eds, press releases, and YouTube. It also had significant support from the highest levels of the Nepali government which excelled itself not just in organizational support and hospitality, but also in commitments for tiger conservation – i.e. plans to double the size of one of its top tiger habitats, Bardia National Park. As remarked by Eric Dinerstein, World Wildlife Fund-US Chief Scientist, there has not been such a positive period for the future of Nepal’s tigers in all the 35 years he has been living in and visiting Nepal.
As part of its regular monitoring of the corporate sector in Southeast Asia, the World Bank economic team I am part of in Thailand has been working on a short case study of supply chains of Japanese multinational companies (MNCs) in the electrical and electronics (E&E) industry. We wanted to hear directly from firms about how the crisis affected them, how they were able to adjust so quickly to the drop in demand, what the rebound looked like, and what were the prospects going forward to upgrade along the value chain. I have learned a great deal from these interviews, and have become convinced that supply chains are central to understanding the current crisis in Thailand and East Asia more generally.
Some facts: the crisis had a disproportionate impact on manufacturing. In Thailand, manufacturing represents about 40 percent of GDP, but contractions in manufacturing value added have accounted for about 75 percent of the contraction of headline GDP. Within manufacturing, the auto and E&E industries account for the bulk of the contraction. Most of the output in those industries is exported, and more than three-fourths of the decline in Thai exports during the crisis was due to falls in shipments from the auto and E&E industries. My conclusion is that the magnitude of the crisis in Thailand has been driven primarily by these two industries.
The economic data for the third quarter of 2009, released almost two weeks ago, confirmed an impressive recovery in China’s economy, supported by very large fiscal and monetary stimulus. Real GDP growth rose to 8.9 percent year-on-year in the third quarter. This is clearly good news, for China and many other countries whose economies are benefiting at the moment from strong demand from China. As the World Bank economic team for China (which I'm part of) argues in more detail in the new China Quarterly Update, it also means that it is time to consider a less expansionary macroeconomic policy stance and focus more on the structural reforms needed to rebalance the economy and get more growth out of the domestic economy on a sustained basis.
It’s not as if China has not been hit by the global recession. China’s real economy has been hit hard. Exports fell sharply since November last year, and the contribution of net external trade to GDP growth was minus 3.6 percent points in the first three quarters of this year – with the negative contribution particularly large in the third quarter (in year-on-year terms).
Regionally speaking, developing countries in East Asia and Pacific have rebounded surprisingly quickly from the financial crisis and global recession. But according to a report just released by the World Bank, the regional economic picture isn’t as rosy when China is taken out of the equation. The latest East Asia and Pacific Update report, an assessment of the economic health of the region released every six months, is titled “Transforming the Rebound into Recovery.” The rebound, the report says, was driven in part by large and timely fiscal stimulus spending led by China and Korea. Still, despite the well-performing economies of Indonesia and Vietnam, developing East Asia excluding China is projected to grow at just around 1 percent in 2009. And for Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand, GDP is contracting.
The China Quarterly Update – a separate report released at the same time as the latest regional assessment and focusing specifically on the Chinese economy – gives a more complete picture of why the country has seen such robust economic growth and what the future may hold. The Bank now projects China to see GDP growth of 8.4 percent for 2009, says the report. The report’s lead author (and blogger) Louis Kuijs wrote an accompanying blog post, which can be read here.
I really recommend taking some time to explore the findings of both reports by visiting the East Asia Update and China Quarterly pages, where you can also download high resolution graphs and watch video interviews with the economists. Also, you'll be able to ask two World Bank economists questions about the regional report in an online chat taking place Thursday, November 12, at 10 a.m. DC time (15:00 GMT or 11:00 p.m. in Beijing). Send your questions now for a better chance of getting them answered.