News / Asia

Asia Looks for Hopeful Signs from Obama Speech on US Jobs

A construction site of the Hong Kong headquarters of China Construction Bank (Asia) is seen in front of Bank of America Tower at Hong Kong's financial Central district, August 25, 2011
A construction site of the Hong Kong headquarters of China Construction Bank (Asia) is seen in front of Bank of America Tower at Hong Kong's financial Central district, August 25, 2011
Ivan Broadhead

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to outline his plans for boosting American employment and shoring up an economy that some analysts fear may be headed to another recession.  Although his speech Thursday is mainly aimed at Americans, the stumbling U.S. economy is of great concern in Asia, where there are expectations that growth in China  will reach a 10-year low and other nations may be economically vulnerable.

Asian countries have posted steady economic growth during much of the last decade, but the dean of business at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Leonard Cheng, says U.S. fiscal well-being remains crucial to the region’s continued growth.

"Asian economies are very much externally oriented. Many of them depend on exports of goods to the U.S., Europe and Japan. Since the U.S. still accounts for one quarter of the global economy, you can imagine that the U.S. is very important," he said.

Cheng expects Obama to focus on sustainable growth and job creation in his speech.  He says Asian governments are eager for the U.S. economy to once again become an engine for growth.

Singapore, which witnessed 15 percent growth last year, announced this week that it expected to move back into recession next quarter on a drop in U.S. exports exacerbated by fears about European sovereign debt.

Further north, Seoul is hoping that the U.S. Congress will ratify a Free Trade Agreement between Korea and the U.S. so both countries can benefit from a relaxation in bilateral tariffs.

However, with both Democrats and Republicans worried that it could lead to thousands more American jobs lost overseas, the deal may not have the votes to pass.

Perhaps most exposed to the U.S. downturn is China.  More than 20 percent of its total exports are bought by U.S. consumers and Beijing holds $1.2 trillion of U.S. Treasury Bonds.   Cheng calculates that exports from China to the United States still account for between four and six percent of China’s GDP.

This week Huang Guobo, chief economist with the State Administration for Foreign Exchange, reported that China’s growth is softening and could fall below nine percent next quarter, its slowest rate since 1991.

Cheng argues that Asian governments, particularly Beijing, must satisfy themselves with a more gradual rate of growth. He says Americans have to change their consumption habits if the President’s plans are to be effective.

"Work harder, yes, but consume a little bit less so that they can have enough savings to pay off their debt - at least not let their debt grow larger and larger. And, Asians need to be aware that this is good for the U.S. and good for them too in the long term. Even though in the short term, everyone wants to sell as much as possible to the United States," said Cheng.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said Monday that he hopes China can boost global economic growth by expanding domestic demand and reducing its reliance on exports.

Sophie Leung, a Hong Kong legislator and deputy to China’s National People’s Congress, says she is confident that China can play a role in assisting the U.S. recovery as increasingly affluent consumers look to purchase American goods.

"As the new 12th Five Year plan indicated, China would like to divert from export to import. And, I think this is something that President Obama might be catering his speech towards; tapping that [demand]. As China’s consumers start waking up, [they will] want choice, and I think American products have a lot to offer, beyond just Coca Cola and jeans," she said.

For poorer Asian countries, cuts of more than 40 percent to U.S. development budgets could take a more serious toll on vulnerable economies.  Cheng says regional instability could become a concern the longer it takes the United States to struggle back to profitability.

"I think Asian governments already are under pressure now because of inflation and a very uneven income distribution and wealth distribution," said Cheng.

After President Obama’s address, attention will likely shift to Friday’s G7 meeting in Marseille for a further indication of how the United States and other leading economies can collectively support global growth and job creation.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs