Asia: trade figures - bad omen ?

5 min

Asian economies have recorded strong growth rates last year, surfing on the global trade boom. At year-end though, signs of waning momentum started to emerge. Looking at trade hubs, USD-denominated exports growth slowed in Q4 2017 in South Korea (+8.5% y/y, down from +24% in Q3 2017) and in Taiwan (+11.7% y/y, after +16.8%). Slower GDP growth in Singapore (+3.1% y/y in Q4 2017, down from +5.4% in Q3) also signals slower trade expansion in the near term. Going forward, there is still room for cautious optimism. Regional exports growth could decelerate due to slower demand growth from China. Yet strong demand in advanced economies may act as a counterbalance. This relative optimism is comforted by still solid manufacturing PMIs in the Eurozone, the U.S. and Japan. Against this background, real economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region is set to decelerate but remain solid at +4.8% in 2018 (after +5% in 2017).