Despite a surge in joblessness and a regional drop of the forecasted GDP growth to 5.3 percent expected in 2009, developing East Asian and Pacific countries may be able to look to China for hope during the current global economic slowdown. That's according to the World Bank's April 2009 edition of the East Asia & Pacific Update, which was released today.
The latest half-yearly assessment of the region's economic health, aptly titled "Battling the Forces of Global Recession", says there have already been signs of China's economy bottoming out by mid-2009. China's possible subsequent recovery in 2010, concludes the report, could contribute to the entire region's stabilization, and perhaps recovery.
There are a number of ways to review the findings of the report on the World Bank's website. Head over to worldbank.org/eapupdate to view specific chapters or download the full report. For an intimate view of people who are being affected by the ongoing financial crisis in East Asian and Pacific countries – including Cambodia, Thailand, Mongolia and the Philippines – check out "Faces of the Crisis". You can also view hi-res graphs from the report here.
Also, check back here in the next day or so for blog posts written by World Bank economists based in Cambodia and Lao PDR.
UPDATE: For country-specific expert perspectives on the new World Bank repot, check out blog posts from World Bank economists based in Cambodia and Laos. Stéphane Guimbert considers what contraction might look like in Cambodia. And Katia Vostroknutova takes a look at Laos' economy, which is less affected by crisis, but faces the increasing challenge of sustaining growth during the crisis.
The Government of Myanmar, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United Nations have released the first comprehensive report covering the impact of Cyclone Nargis on the people in the Ayeyarwady Delta and Yangon. Among the highlights:
Two massive natural disasters in two East Asian countries – Myanmar and China – over the past five weeks have brought home just how quickly and dramatically life and livelihoods can be destroyed. Our experts in natural disaster recovery and reconstruction know this only too well.
I had the chance today to attend a speech by ASEAN's (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Secretary General, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, right after he had met with the Bank's President Bob Zoellick. He told us they discussed ways to increase the cooperation between the two organizations, but the most interesting and pressing aspect of it all is that they talked about specific ways in which the Bank will be helping out the victims of Cyclone Nargis through ASEAN.
As advanced in an earlier post, here's a short list to the webpages for online donations of international NGOs that have a large presence in the country and so are likely to be most effective under the difficult circumstances:
The New York Times reports that some aid has begun flowing into Myanmar, but it looks like the mobilization for major relief operations is still underway and not clearly defined.