IMF Identifies ASEAN Economic Challenges

April 27, 2010 International Tax CooperationTaxation in ChinaTaxation in SingaporeTaxation in ThailandTaxation in Vietnam

ASEAN London CommitteeIn a recent speech given by the Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to the Finance Ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the key economic and fiscal issues, that the IMF perceives as currently facing ASEAN nations, were revealed.

On April 26th the IMF published a previously unreleased transcript of a speech given by Naoyuki Shinohara, Deputy Managing Director of the IMF, at the 14th ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Meeting, held on April 8th 2010 in Nha Trang, Vietnam. The speech focused on the key economic challenges the IMF perceives as facing ASEAN member nations. According to the Deputy Managing Director, to see strong economic growth, ASEAN members must overcome the fragile external economic environment, the potential for surges of inward capital flows, and the need to expand private domestic demand over the medium term.

Naoyuki Shinohara said that Asian nations are showing greater levels of economic recovery and fiscal stability, when compared to advanced economies. Cumulatively, the ASEAN members are projected to increase economic output by 5.5 percent over the 2010 year. Despite the positive outlook, ASEAN economies are highly reliant on external economic factors. The IMF does not expect credit conditions across the US and the Euro-Zone to normalize until 2011, and the Deputy Managing Director warned that ASEAN members need to balance this factor into the timing of their 2009 stimulus package withdrawal policies. He advised that policymakers should consider taking precautions to allow for agility in any present decisions, to cope with unforeseen economic shifts.

According to Naoyuki Shinohara, ASEAN economies face the unique challenge of possible spikes in foreign capital inflows. As the international economy recovers, it is conceivable that ASEAN nations will see higher than expected investment. In preparation for such eventualities, policymakers have been advised to tighten fiscal regulations, allow for greater flexibility in exchange rate in decision making, create macro- and micro-level policies to handle the spikes, and begin accumulating fiscal reserve to use as a safe-guard.

A warning was given to ASEAN Governments that pre-crisis fiscal policies favoring expansion of exports over the growth of local private consumer demand need to be addressed. The Director gave broad directives for ASEAN economies to instate reforms to improve private investment, raise productivity in services, and improve the overall private sector consumer demand.

Photo by Foreign and Commonwealth Office