The region has the fundamentals, policy and confidence as well as room for ‘easy’ growth

ASEAN is the region to be in again in 2013. After an estimated growth of 5.2 per cent in 2012, Asean’s gross domestic product or GDP (on a purchasing power parity or PPP-weighted basis) will grow 5.3 per cent this year, outpacing the International Monetary Fund’s global growth estimate of 3.6 per cent.

We expect Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia to match or exceed their 10-year average rates in 2013. More is also expected from Myanmar, which has made international headlines for implementing reforms, allowing it to reconnect with the world.

Confidence is high in Asean, both domestically and among foreign investors – the region attracted 7.6 per cent of global foreign direct investment in 2011 versus 4.3 per cent in 2006. Since 2000, following the crippling Asian financial crisis, Asean growth has exceeded global growth by an average of 1.5 per cent. Can the region keep running at this pace?

Nothing runs in a straight line. Business cycles still exist. But Asean certainly still has much more room to grow and catch up with the world, despite the world-beating growth rates registered over the past decade or so. The region is not yet at the stage where factors for growth have become complicated. At the most basic level, the continued urbanisation process will help to drive “easy” growth. –Edward lee,