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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs