News / Asia

Japanese Quake Has Limited Effect on Southeast Asia Economies

A man runs past Samsung Electronics Co.'s mobile phone Galaxy S advertisement outside its head office in Seoul, South Korea (FILE).
A man runs past Samsung Electronics Co.'s mobile phone Galaxy S advertisement outside its head office in Seoul, South Korea (FILE).
Daniel Schearf

The disaster in Japan is expected to affect economies in Southeast Asia, but economists say the damage is likely to be limited. They say the region may even see increased investments from Japan as companies seek to diversify away from areas at higher risk from natural disasters.

Japan supplies Southeast Asia factories with components and parts put into cars, electronics, and other products for export, including back to Japan.

That supply chain was disrupted when the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan's northeast, damaging a nuclear plant and forcing many factories to stop production.

Many Southeast Asian countries export to Japan. The Japanese market accounts for about 20 percent of Indonesia’s exports and 17 percent of what the Philippines sends abroad, down to smaller amounts from countries including Cambodia, Laos, and Singapore.

Regional economists say exports may suffer this year. But with Japanese damage assessments and the situation at the nuclear plant uncertain, estimates of the cost to trade are tentative.

Tim Condon, the chief Asia economist for ING Financial Markets in Singapore, said a worst-case scenario would be similar to the 2008 global financial crisis, when Japan’s imports dropped by nearly half.

"If the earthquake damage is that severe we could see damage on the order of 0.7 percent of GDP in Indonesia, about half that in the case of Philippines, and then something even lower than that in the rest of the Southeast Asian economies. So, it ranges from a chunky number in the case of Indonesia, to kind of a negligible figure in the others."

Condon said the best-case scenario would be damage similar to the 1995 Kobe earthquake, which cost Japan about 2 percent of its GDP but saw regional trade recover quickly.

The World Bank said this week that earthquake and tsunami reconstruction could cost Japan up to $235 billion and take up to five years.  

But Japan’s economic growth is expected to pick up in the second half of this year as reconstruction gets underway.

Lei Lei Song, a senior economist with the Asian Development Bank, said that barring any major nuclear contamination, Japan's economy should rebound relatively quickly, and along with it, the trade with Southeast Asia.

"We're still assessing the impact in terms of the GDP growth. But, I guess it's very modest.  It would not change the robust growth we are currently expecting for Southeast Asian economies," said Song.

Southeast Asia's economies grew by about 7 percent last year.

Song said Thailand is one of the countries in Southeast Asia most exposed to economic effects from Japan, partly because of its flourishing auto industry. Thailand is referred to as the Detroit of Southeast Asia because major car companies have factories here.

Condon said Thailand’s auto factories could have some short-term problems obtaining parts from Japan, but that the disaster would not seriously hurt the industry.

"My thinking is that it will probably be the reverse," he said. "They will look to diversify their production sites and move things to cheaper and less earthquake-prone destinations."

Thailand also is tied closely to Japan’s economy through debt. More than 60 percent of Thailand’s foreign debt is in Japanese yen and any appreciation raises the costs for paying it back.

Economists say even if the yen appreciates, though, it will not be difficult for Thailand to deal with it because its external debt is not high.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs