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Asia 'leading world out of slump'

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    Asia 'leading world out of slump'

    Asia is leading the world out of recession, the region's leaders have said.Leaders have gathered in Singapore for the annual meeting of the 21 nations that make up the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) body.

    Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that, with weaker US growth, "somebody else has to spend more somewhere else in the world".

    "This has to be in Asia," he added in a keynote speech to business leaders.

    Mr Lee cited China and India, two countries which are recording annual growth of more than 6% this year whereas most countries in the West have been through deep contractions.

    "Historically, the developed economies led recoveries. This time, it's going to be the developing economies."

    Dennis Nally, PricewaterhouseCoopers

    Apec seeks new balance of power

    "The next few years' growth will be slow worldwide but in the long term, Asia will do well," Mr Lee said.

    The International Monetary Fund said last month that Asia would grow by 2.75% in 2009 and 5.75% in 2010, compared with flat to negative growth in the US and Western Europe.

    Leaders of the US and Russia will also attend the Apec meeting - which some say reflects the shifting balance of power between the US and Asia.

    Stimulus wind down

    Other attendees at the meeting backed what Mr Lee said.

    "Historically, the developed economies led recoveries," said Dennis Nally, global chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers International.

    "This time, it's going to be the developing economies."

    US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said: "If you look at the broad thrust of policy from China, it is playing a major role in helping contribute to recovery.

    "The broad thrust of reforms provides a very promising basis for helping underpin a more solid foundation for growth in the future, not just in the region but around the world," he added.

    The regional body has also vowed to help businesses operate in the region.

    "Apec ministers agreed to make it 25% cheaper, faster and easier to do business in the region by 2015," trade and foreign ministers said on Thursday.

    Mr Lee also said that countries would have to collectively determine how to wind down stimulus packages that have boosted growth, echoing what the G20 group of richest nations said last week.

    "The moment will have to be co-ordinated so that countries come out in an orderly sort of way," he said.

    The Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Pangestu backed that view.

    "The recovery is fragile and everybody agrees," she said. "How to sustain it means that you can't exit too quickly."

    The summit brings together 21 of the world's largest economies who account for 44% of world trade and 40% of the world's population.
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