MANILA, Philippines – Southeast Asian economies including the Philippines are expected to grow below trend this year but Moody’s Analytics said improving global conditions and stronger consumer spending will lift growth in 2015.

In a report, the research firm said it expects the economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to grow by 4.3 percent this year and above five percent next year.

Moody’s Analytics put the region’s recent average annual growth trend at just over five percent.

Next year’s growth will be a result of the US economy’s sustained upward trend and the Chinese economy’s continued gains from a government stimulus. These should push exports earnings up in ASEAN member countries over the next 18 months, the research firm said.

Moreover, firms involved in the production of smartphones and personal computers in the region will also profit from the firming global demand, it said.

Looking at each ASEAN member, Moody’s Analytics said the Philippines and Malaysia were the region’s strongest performers in the first half of the year, a trend forecast to be sustained over the next year.

“Sound fiscal and monetary policy have been key drivers of growth. Malaysia’s domestic economy is firing on all cylinders, while the Philippines has shrugged off the effects of last year’s typhoon,” Moody’s Analyties said.

“The pipeline of infrastructure and residential projects in the Philippines lifted investment growth above 10 percent for the past two years, however this is now slowing, implying a more modest increase in fixed investment in the coming years,” it said.

The economy grew 6.4 percent in the second quarter, slower than the 7.9 percent growth in the same period of last year.

“The ASEAN nations are well?positioned to deal with capital outflows as global investors reposition their portfolios away from riskier markets in response to tighter U.S. monetary policy,” Moody’s Analytics said.

“Underlying metrics across most economies remain solid: The economic outlook is robust, governments have ample foreign reserves, external positions are healthy, and the public debt burden remains manageable,” it added.

But risks remain for the region such as Indonesia’s current account deficit and concerns on Thailand’s return to democracy, both of which may result in speculative outflows. –Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star)