Lee Kuan Yew says Asia won't be badly hit if US has recession

Other News Materials 18 February 2008 05:06 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Buoyed by bustling growth in China and India, Asia will not be "unduly disadvantaged" if a recession hits the United States, said Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew Sunday night.

"I believe this may be the first time where the US economy catches a flu and we are not going to catch influenza - I hope," the city-state's founding prime minister said at a Singapore Airshow leadership dialogue.

The Chinese and Indian economies are unlikely to dip below 8, 9, or 10 per cent growth, Lee said. While 40 per cent of intra-Asian trade is bound for the United States, even if the US cuts its imports by half, Asia would not be too badly hit.

Focusing on the aviation industry, Lee said he was confident Asia will continue to soar. With new airports being built and more people taking to the skies, Lee forecast "enormous growth in Asia in the next 10, 20 years, more in Asia than in any other part of the world."

He was more skeptical on liberalization going forward. Countries that are not doing so well will want their flag carriers to grow stronger first before they open up, he said.

Citing some progress, he noted that by December, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) will lift all restrictions on flights between capital cities.

ASEAN includes Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar.

The six-day Singapore Airshow featuring the giants of the manufacturing industry starts on Tuesday.