Brunei’s economic growth forecast upgraded

Azlan Othman

Asian Development Bank (ADB) has upgraded its economic growth forecast for Brunei Darussalam.

The Sultanate, along with Vietnam, had unexpectedly strong outturns driven by exports, prompting the upward adjustments to the forecasts, said ADB in its Outlook Supplement 2019 published on Wednesday.

In Brunei Darussalam, the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate for the Sultanate is forecast to be 1.0 per cent this year and 1.5 per cent next year.

ADB lowered its forecast for economic growth in Asia by 5.2 per cent this year (2019) and next year (2020), following domestic and external factors that are expected to affect growth in China and India.

ADB adjusted both figures compared to its Asian Development Outlook 2019 Update in September which forecast GDP growth to rise to 5.4 per cent this year and 5.5 per cent next year.

For Southeast Asia, the forecast for sub-regional GDP growth is revised down from 4.5 per cent in the update to 4.4 per cent for this year, and maintained at 4.7 per cent for 2020.

Growth forecasts are downgraded for Singapore and Thailand and upgraded for Brunei Darussalam and Vietnam, with the remaining Southeast Asian economies on track to meet forecasts made in the Update.

With the exception of Brunei and Vietnam, continued export declines and weaker investment weigh on growth prospects in the sub-region.

ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada said that although growth rates were still strong in Asia, continued trade tensions were affecting the region and were still the biggest risk to long-term economic outlook. “Domestic investment is also weak in most countries, due to declining business sentiment. Inflation, on the other hand, is rising due to higher food prices, following the outbreak of the African swine fever, which has led to sharp increases in prices,” he said.

The supplement also forecasted an inflation of 2.8 per cent this year and 3.1 per cent next year, which is an increase from the 27 per cent projection last September for this year and next year.

Growth forecasts for East Asia are downgraded to 5.4 per cent in 2019 and 5.2 per cent in 2020, as the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Korea endure continuing trade tensions and slowing domestic investment – as does Hong Kong, China, where political unrest is another factor.