Exports, driven in large part by China, are sustaining the expansion during a period of weak private consumption in the wake of the household credit bubble.
Although export growth is now moderating, a pick-up in domestic demand, led initially by investment, is expected to maintain economic growth in the 4-5% range in 2005 and 2006. A slowdown in world trade growth before domestic demand revives would pose a threat to a continued expansion.Given the structural causes of weak domestic demand, further progress in the reform agenda, notably by increasing flexibility in the labour market and addressing the problems of the credit card companies, should be the top priority. Monetary policy should maintain its expansionary stance until domestic demand recovers, while automatic fiscal stabilisers should be allowed to function.
|Population (000s), 2003||47 925|
|Area (000 sq km)||100|
|GDP (Billion USD), 2003||605.4|
|Life expectancy at birth (Women, Men), 2001 ||80.0, 72.8|
|Total labour force (000s), 2003||22 916|
|Indicators||% change unless otherwise indicated|
|Household savings ratio||3.4||3.7||5.1|
|Consumer price index||3.7||3.5||3.0|
|Short-term interest rate (%)||3.8||3.7||3.9|
|Unemployment rate (%)||3.5||3.5||3.4|
|General government financial balance (% GDP)||3.4||3.4||3.4|
|Current account balance (% GDP)||3.7||2.7||2.7|
© OECD Observer
No 245, November 2004