World Bank Sees Slower Asia Growth, Bird Flu Risk

Manila Bulletin, November 4, 2005 | Go to article overview

World Bank Sees Slower Asia Growth, Bird Flu Risk


Byline: VIDYA RANGANATHAN

SINGAPORE, Nov. 3 (Reuters) a" East Asiaas economies should grow at a slightly slower pace this year and next, the World Bank said on Thursday, in a report that also highlighted the potentially catastrophic human and economic costs from any bird flu pandemic.

The region, excluding Japan, should grow by 6.2 percent in 2005 and the same in 2006, the bank said. That is down 1 percentage point from 2004 levels as the region copes with high oil prices and tighter monetary policy.

Chinaas gross domestic product growth should moderate to 8.7 percent in 2006 from a likely 9.3 percent this year, but other parts of the region will see better growth and Japanas recovery will help Asia reduce its dependence on US demand, the World Bank said in its twice-yearly review.

The spread of avian flu, which was so far confined to the rural areas of several East Asian economies, was a big risk to growth in 2006 as there could be an economic impact from policy actions such as quarantines and travel restrictions, it said.

"While the costs of dealing with this have so far been limited to around 0.1 percent of GDP, from culling birds and implementation of better animal health surveillance systems, the potential impact of a serious pandemic is of grave concern," said Milan Brahmbhatt, economist and main author of the report.

The report said the most immediate economic impacts of a pandemic might arise a" as was the case with the deadly SARS outbreak of 2003 a" not from death or sickness but from people and governments responding in an uncoordinated way.

While the bank said it was foolhardy to try to estimate costs from such a shock, it noted disruptions from SARS resulted in the loss of possibly 2 percent of East Asian GDP in one quarter. …

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