Fast-growing Asia-Pacific economy somewhat undermined by external shocks – UN

Fast-growing Asia-Pacific economy somewhat undermined by external shocks – UN

Kim Hak-Su, ESCAP
The economy of the Asia-Pacific region will continue to be the fastest growing in the world this year, but it has been undermined by last December's Indian Ocean tsunami, high oil prices, a weak United States dollar and health problems, the United Nations economic and social body for the area says in a new report.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is set to launch its findings in the "2005 Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific: Dealing with Shocks" simultaneously next Monday in Bangkok, Thailand, and more than a dozen other cities in the region, as well as at UN Headquarters in New York and the UN Office at Geneva.

The report looks at the impact of the oil price spiral, the fallout from the tsunami and other natural disasters, rapid population aging, and the spread of such diseases as avian influenza and HIV/AIDS, ESCAP said.

"I hope the analysis and policy options outlined in the survey will help member countries take bold actions in two ways: transform the challenge of aging into an opportunity to improve living standards and make the old age population more productive by providing training and a flexible working environment," ESCAP Executive Secretary Kim Hak-Su said.

The survey says the aging of societies is the "most important feature of demographic transition in the next half century in Asia and the Pacific."

In this year, which the UN General Assembly has designated the International Year of Microcredit, the report also stresses the role of micro-finance in reducing poverty.