Oil Hikes Hit Asia Hard

With oil selling for above US$45 a barrel, experts are expressing concern for the impact on Asian economies.

Ifzal Ali, chief economist of the Manila-based Asian Development Bank predicts the price will stay above US$40 for the remainder of 2004. In an article in the Singapore Business Times, Ali is quoted as saying that high oil prices are now a “serious threat not only to Asia but globally as well.”

Oil at US$50 a barrel could reduce China’s GDP by 1.1 % and India’s by 1.2% he says. Hurt even more would be the countries of Southeast Asia with their heavy dependence on oil imports. The Philippines GDP would drop by 2.6 percent and Thailand’s by 3.1 percent.

As the world’s economies become more interlocking, a sneeze in Asia can lead to a cold in Europe or the Americas. Smaller enterprises in the west will be affected by what happens in Asia. Companies in the US are outsourcing more and more work to India and other Asian nations. A slowing of economic growth in those markets will have an impact on outsourcing and the price of the goods those developing economies export to western nations. Then there is the question of business investment in Asia. In today’s world, to paraphrase John Donne, no nation is an island. Nor is any business, no matter how small.

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