Area Development
The most recent economic data from South Korea and Singapore show slowdowns in growth, particularly in the area of exports to the United States, that could negatively impact economic growth in those nations for the coming year. The BBC reports that South Korean exports increased by a worse-than-expected 15.5 percent, with its first monthly trade deficit since 2003. Singapore's economy shrank in the fourth quarter for the first time in five years, with a slump in semiconductor exports the strongest contributor. Both these countries rely heavily on U.S. demand for their manufactured products, and economic analysts believe continuing strains in the U.S. credit markets will cause American consumers to slow their discretionary spending on many of the goods produced in Asia. However, economic growth in India, China, and the Middle East may make up some of the deficit. "Solid exports to the emerging markets such as China are expected to keep the growth rate at two digits," says Park Sang-Hyun, a South Korean economist, quoted in the BBC report.