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Asia Pacific Economy in March 2013

Source: OPEC 4/6/2013, Location: Asia

Indonesia’s fiscal position has improved in recent years, leading to a decline in government debt relative to GDP. But oil prices remain a source of fiscal uncertainty, given the country’s high fuel subsidy bill. In 2012 the government initially expected to record a budget deficit equivalent to 1.5% of GDP; but its forecast was revised twice, ending up at 2.3-2.4%.

Since exports account for a relatively small proportion of its GDP, Indonesia should cope better than most of its neighbours with the still subdued global economy during 2013, when we expect the country's real GDP to grow by 5.9%. Markit reported that the seasonally adjusted PMI edged back above the nochange mark of 50.0 during February, posting 50.5 (up from 49.7 in January). The latest reading indicated an improvement in the health of the manufacturing sector, albeit only slight.

In Vietnam, after inflation peaked at 23% in August 2011, it has slowed dramatically, bottoming out at 5.0% last August before moving higher to 7.1% last month. Inflation is set to increase but is forecast to average 8.3% this year versus 9.1% last year and 18.7% in 2011. At the same time, Vietnam’s trade balance was in surplus last year for the first time in two decades. Through February this year it has been reported that loan growth in the country is down 0.2%. The weakness in credit growth has been evident in GDP growth, too, as the economy grew just 5.0% last year and is expected to grow only 5.3% this year. After adjusting for seasonal factors, the HSBC Vietnam Manufacturing PMI posted 48.3 in February, down from 50.1 in January. This is below the neutral 50.0 mark and signals a contraction for the second time in the past three months.

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