south-east Asia

By Gordon French, HSBC

If Asia’s emerging markets are to avoid the middle income trap, they need to create foundations for the next phase of growth: they need to invest in infrastructure.

In the early stages of development, moving a worker from the land to a factory quadruples their value-added contribution to the economy on average. Much of Asia’s extraordinary growth to date has been underwritten by this one-off transition, but the windfall gains of rapid industrialisation are starting to decline and if the region is to continue on the road to prosperity it needs to find ways to boost productivity and encourage new economic activity. Read more

A trader gestures in front of the electronic display at the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) in Manila on June 18, 2012.It is hardly surprising to see mixed economic views of a country or region. But these days, Asia has become a forecasters’ chop-suey of tasty and unpalatable tidbits.

While it boasts growing internal markets, strong capital inflows and still-impressive annual growth among some economies, the region remains vulnerable to global slowdowns, the whims of western central banks, natural disasters and inadequate regional co-operation. Among the growing stream of mixed messages on the region’s trajectory came the United Nations Economic and Social commission for Asia and the Pacific, launched on Friday in Bangkok. Read more

By Jake Maxwell Watts and Nguyen Phuong Linh

As construction starts on a controversial hydropower project in Laos, it becomes clearer by the day that this poor and underdeveloped country is likely to place its ambition to be the “battery of south-east Asia” above any cost to the environment – and that price will be considerable. Read more