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In Thailand, finding the way back into growth: Step 1, switch the supply chains back on

Frederico Gil Sander's picture

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.

Growth in China continues to influence East Asia’s economic recovery, two new World Bank reports say

James I Davison's picture

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.

The world’s resources, at a glance

James I Davison's picture

Here’s an interesting and quick item to check out on a Friday. This map gives an attractive, at-a-glace look at some of the world’s key natural resources, organized by country. A couple of things to note that are East Asia-related: China leads more categories (at least on this map) than any other country, including wheat, cotton, gold and rice.

Regional Finance Roundup: Is East Asia leading the world out of the crisis?

James Seward's picture

Given that Asia is now widely seen as leading the world out of the crisis, it is fitting that the role of Asia was more prominently recognized in the global economic system in the recent G20 meeting held in Pittsburgh.  Since we last looked in July, the outlook for the emerging markets of East Asia has continued to brighten.  The latest regional forecasts come from the Asian Development Bank in its Asian Development Outlook (pdf) published last week.  It points to “the rapid turnaround in [Asia’s] largest, less export-dependent economies” and predicts that “the regional economy is now poised to achieve a V-shaped rebound.”  These are very positive words indeed!  As the graph below shows, the ADB has in fact upgraded its growth forecasts for a number of economies for 2009.

Although the signs are pointing upwards, performance is still mixed in a number of key areas.

Improving investment climate important to boost economic growth in Thailand

Xubei Luo's picture

The investment climate is the fundamental socio-economic framework in which firms operate – the macroeconomic and trade policies they face, the labor and financial markets in which they recruit and raise money, the available infrastructure and im

China's presence on Fortune's Global 500 list grows, despite economic crisis

James I Davison's picture

Another example of China’s respectable growth, despite the global economic crisis, is apparent in this month’s Fortune magazine, with its Global 500 list of the world’s largest companies.

Can anyone be a changemaker? Website attempts to connect social problem solvers

James I Davison's picture

About a month ago, I came across Changemakers.com (via Change.org’s Social Entrepreneurship blog), a neat website for people to connect and collaborate with others working – on all levels – to solve social problems. The website is an initiative of Ashoka, a nonprofit organization that works to support social entrepreneurship. Changemakers seems to act as a social network of sorts – through competitions, discussion forums and storytelling – for people who want to make a difference. Two aspects of the site quickly appealed to me.


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