13/12/2019 03:38 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 13  — A survey conducted by the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) has revealed that the regional community is optimistic about Southeast Asia’s growth prospects next year, driven by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2020 forum.

PECC secretary-general Eduardo Pedrosa said there is a strong momentum towards regional integration within the ASEAN economic community as well as expectations of trade diversion.

“The survey showed that 42.2 per cent of 627 regional policy experts are bullish on Southeast Asia’s outlook. 

“Given that APEC 2020 will be hosted by Malaysia, which is a hub for Southeast Asia, the economy is expected to move ahead quite quickly although the global economy might be facing a downturn,” he told reporters after tabling the 14th annual State of the Region report for 2019-2020 here today.

The survey also found that 31.6 per cent of respondents expect economic growth in China to be stronger after Southeast Asia, followed by Japan (16.2 per cent) and the US (16.2 per cent). 

The report also revealed that only 9.3 per cent of respondents expect the global economy to strengthen next year with 67.9 per cent expecting much weaker growth.

However, Pedrosa said governments are undertaking measures to forestall a slowdown through significant stimulus measures, primarily interest rate cutes.

Pedrosa said regional policy experts also see increased protectionism and trade wars as the top risks to growth in the Asia-Pacific, followed by possible slowdowns in world trade growth, a slowdown in the US and China’s economy as well as lack of political leadership.

The report also looked at a range issues including education to promote people-oriented growth towards sustainability.

“Education especially upskilling is the most pressing issue, with 86 per cent of respondents rating education and training strategies to upskill the workforce as top priorities,” he said.

The report said 83 per cent of respondents highlight APEC’s ability to provide a platform for robust dialogue and effective cooperation among member economies, while 68 per cent say that APEC is just as important as it was when it was created.

“Only 26 per cent agree that both APEC industrialised and developing economies have met the Bogor Goals of achieving free and open trade in the Asia-Pacific, while 37 per cent disagree,” he added.



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