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Asia Business: The Week Ahead - 2003-10-06

The Manila-based multinational lender, the Asian Development Bank, forecasts a 6.1 percent economic growth for Asia next year from the 5.3 percent expected this year.

The bank's chief economist, Ifzal Ali, says China would remain the fastest growing economy in the region. But he adds the bank is also expecting significant improvements in other Asian economies. "While the People's Republic of China will continue to do well, the countries that have been revised upwards very sharply are Korea, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong," he says.

Asia's newest airline, Air Asia, will take to the skies on October 22, with an inaugural flight targeted for people shuttling between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The no-frills airline says it would only charge a third of a price of a second-class train ticket for the flight between Kuala Lumpur and Johor - the Malaysian state an hour's drive away from Singapore.

The Malaysia-based Air Asia is still in talks with Singapore's Civil Aviation Authority for access to the city-state's international airport.

In currency news, the international credit ratings agency, Moody's, has downgraded the outlook for the Philippines' currency ratings to negative from stable. Moody's says political uncertainty in the run-up to next year's presidential elections would put pressure on the Philippines' ability to finance foreign currency obligations.

But the agency has upgraded Indonesia's foreign currency ratings, citing increased international currency reserves and falling private and public sector debt.