Tue, 04 Sep 2001

Asia's economic malaise

The current woes of the emerging Asian tigers can be traced solely to the economic slowdowns in the United States and Japan, both major trading partners for the troubled economies. Among other onslaughts, the emerging Asian markets have been hit squarely by the end of the U.S. information technology business boom.

According to some estimates, Asia's exports of IT-related products account for about 40 percent of the region's recent economic growth. Given that Singapore and Taiwan are leading exporters in that category, the slowdown in these economies seems a given.

The dollar's continued decline has adversely affected these economies' export drive. Chances are slim that the situation will take a turn for the better.

The ongoing development in the emerging Asian markets have demonstrated anew the defects inherent in their excessively heavy reliance on exports. The lesson drawn from this, bitter as it is, must be taken to heart.

Asian economies must further diversify their industries so as to encourage each economy to focus on an industrial area in which it excels.

-- Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo