Asian Development Outlook 2014: Fiscal Policy for Inclusive Growth

Publication | April 2014

ADB's Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2014 projects that developing Asia's growth will increase from 6.1% in 2013 to 6.2% in 2014 and 6.4% in 2015.

Developing Asia is expected to extend its steady growth. The region's growth is projected to edge up from 6.1% in 2013 to 6.2% in 2014 and 6.4% in 2015. Moderating growth in the People's Republic of China (PRC) as its economy adjusts to more balanced growth will offset to some extent the stronger demand expected from the industrial countries as their economies recover.

Risks to the outlook have eased and are manageable. The monetary policy shift in the United States (US) may invite some volatility ahead in financial markets, albeit mitigated by accommodative monetary policy in Japan and the euro area. The regional growth outlook depends on continued recovery in the major industrial economies and on the PRC managing to contain internal credit growth smoothly.

Widening income gaps in developing Asia strengthens the case for greater use of fiscal policy to foster equality of opportunity. While the region has benefited from fiscal prudence in the past, demographic and environmental challenges are expected to compete for public resources in the coming years. To boost public spending on equity-enhancing programs such as education and health without undermining fiscal sustainability, the authorities will need to explore a wide range of options for mobilizing revenue and to build equity objectives into their fiscal plans.

Key messages

 
  • Developing Asia's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded steadily by 6.1% in 2013, the same pace as in the previous year.
  • The major industrial economies - the US, euro area members, and Japan - grew by a collective 1.0% in 2013. The momentum is expected to quicken to 1.9% in 2014 and 2.2% in 2015.
  • Output in the PRC grew by 7.7% in 2013, matching the performance of the previous year. However, growth is set to slow somewhat in the years ahead as policy promotes growth that is more equitable, sustainable, and balanced.
  • Soft global commodity prices continue to lighten pressure on consumer prices, allowing inflation to ease to 3.4% in developing Asia.
  • The region's current account surplus has flattened, after falling continuously since its peak in 2007.
  • Risks to the outlook have eased, and developing Asia can manage them.
  • During the recent period of US quantitative easing, countries that allowed capital inflows to fuel real exchange rate appreciation and undermine their current account balances are most vulnerable to the risk of destabilizing capital outflows.
  • For resource-dependent economies, commodity price swings matter more than volatile capital flows.
  • Fiscal policy can help the region tackle rising inequality by fostering equality of opportunity.
  • Public spending on education, health care, and direct transfers can contribute to equity, but Asia underspends not only the advanced economies in these areas but also its peers in Latin America.
  • Strategic planning and innovative policies can contribute to more inclusive fiscal policy in Asia.

Background

 

The annual Asian Development Outlook provides a comprehensive analysis of economic performance for the past year and offers forecasts for the next 2 years for the 45 economies in Asia and the Pacific that make up developing Asia.

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