News / Asia

Stronger Asian Currencies Cause Concern for Exporters

Fears are emerging that the rise in Asia's currencies against the U.S. dollar will undermine the region's exports. Economists say companies face narrowing profit margins in a competitive global market.

Asian currencies have been on the rise against the U.S. dollar since the year's start.

The Japanese yen, Malaysian ringgit, Thai baht, Indonesian rupiah and Singapore dollar, among others, have risen by three to eight percent over the dollar.

Most Asian economies rebounded strongly from the global financial crisis that began in 2008. On the other hand, the major developed economies, including the United States, still are struggling to recover.

In Southeast Asia, particularly, investment money is flowing in, and output rising.

But economists and industries warn that stronger currencies are starting to hurt exporters.

Asia's export-driven economies have long relied on cheap currencies to boost growth. Now regional agricultural and industrial producers are seeing that edge disappear - stronger currencies make their goods more expensive overseas.

And that makes business harder, since their major markets - the developed economies - remain weak.

Shamika Sirimanne is a trade economist with the United Nations in Bangkok.  "The global recovery is very tentative at the moment and yes the Western markets are opening up but not as fast as you'd like to see. So for the countries in this region competition is very fierce. And if the exchange rate is holding them back this is going to create big problems for exporters," Sirimanne said.

In Thailand, the central bank says capital inflows and investment have lifted the baht's value by more than six percent against the dollar. Exports, strong at the start of the year, are starting to slow, with growing competition from key competitors such as Vietnam.

Vichai Siriprasert is the honorary president of the Rice Traders Association of Thailand. "As a whole because Thailand exports a lot, when the currency is strong it will hurt all the sectors, all the export sectors, including rice," Vichai said. "I think it's to our interest to keep the currency stable, not to be weaker, not to be stronger, but to be stable if you can. That would be the best policy. But now we are climbing now to be one of the strongest."

Vichai, like many businesspeople in the region, complains that some Asian nations control the value of their currencies, and keep them from appreciating.

For instance, he says Hanoi's depreciation the value of its currency over the past year gave Vietnam a larger share of the global rice market. Vietnam does not allow its currency to trade freely in foreign exchange markets, the way the baht does.

Economists and manufacturers around the world also have complained for years that China keeps its currency artificially low. Beijing in June said it would let its yuan move more against the dollar and other currencies. However, the yuan's value has changed little.

Economists say Asia's export industries face narrowing profit margins in the months ahead, raising concerns of unemployment and slowing growth around the regions.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More