IMF says Asia to lead growth in 2015 despite China slowdown

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

TOKYO (AP) — Asian economies will grow at a 5.6 percent pace in 2015, level with last year, as recoveries in India and Japan help to offset the slowdown in China, the IMF said in a report Thursday.

IMF economists expressed concern, however, over the potential for weaker growth if policy makers in the region fail to follow through with needed changes, saying it was a time not for "alarm but it is a time for alert."

The IMF's regional economic outlook forecasts that growth in the Asia-Pacific area will moderate to 5.5 percent in 2016.

Asian growth fell to 5.5 percent in 2014 from 5.9 percent in 2013, and is bound to shift lower as China's economy settles at a more sustainable level than the torrid double-digit pace of the past decade.

China's report of 7 percent growth in the first quarter of the year was in keeping with that trend.

"The current phase of growth is in line with our forecasts, but even if it's a desirable slowdown it can have a negative impact on other countries," said Changyong Rhee, director of the IMF's Asia and Pacific Department.

Rising levels of debt and potential financial market disruptions are other risks to growth, though moves by Chinese financial regulators to rein in margin trading and umbrella trusts are a positive step, he said.