First half year 2003 fall in Swedish exports to five main Asean markets

Sell harder!
     That is the message Swedish exporters active in five major Asean markets – Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – should get after reading the latest market survey from Sweden’s Trade Council.
     Sweden fails to up sales in any of the five countries.
     The drop in exports ranges from a modest five percent for Thailand to a dramatic 42 percent in Malaysia.
     The answer probably lies in a difficult first half affected by the Iraq war and Sars.
     Still there is room for optimism for the latter part of 2003.
     GNP grew in all five nations but Singapore first half 2003 and if no major disasters happen, exporters can take some advantage of the lighter mood and get more orders.
     Looking more in detail on the five, Indonesia grew by 3.6 percent during the period, mainly from increased activity within the construction industry. Indonesia has however not yet reached the production levels prior to the mid 1997 crisis and is busy with severe political problems.
     In Malaysia, which recorded 4.5 percent growth the first six months of 2003, public consumption grew the most. Most GNP-growth was generated in agribusiness and manufacturing. The Swedish Trade Council does however note that Malaysia’s budget deficit has grown to “unhealthy levels” which may affect the overall economy later.
     Despite its 3.9 percent growth, a modest inflation, and healthy signs in private consumption as well as in machine and equipment investments, the Philippines has one big hurdle before it can cross the 4 to 5 percent growth levels it so much needs, writes the Trade Council and spells out the words: crony capitalism and imperfect markets.
     Singapore’s economy nosedived the second quarter due to Sars and the first half ended with a minus 1.3 percent GNP growth. But newborn optimism and a recent boost in exports should be enough to put Singapore back on track soon.
     Thailand, finally, is the fastest runner in the group. The Thais 6.2 percent growth January to June 2003 was generated mainly thanks to the manufacturing and finance sectors which both recorded double digit growth numbers. A positive development boosted by generous state and private funding while inflation still is kept low. But Thailand must stay alert not to walk into a consumer credit bubble crisis similar to that of Korea! warns the Swedish Trade Council.

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