Could Asia's 'export tigers' stage a recovery?

Despite sluggish world growth, supply dynamics suggest a recovery could be on the cards

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They were once known as the Asian tigers, but now appear to possess the dynamism of an ageing domesticated tabby. Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia - not long ago the world's manufacturing powerhouses - have seen exports decline sharply in past months.

The cause is partly structural: a persistent decline in world trade, which is itself symptomatic of a gradual rebalancing of the world's current account. Global trade used to rise at a pace of 7% on average, to the disproportionate benefit of Asian economies. But it has recently fallen below 1.5%. China can take some of the blame for that. As the world's second largest economy has begun to manufacture higher-end goods, it has disrupted the very supply chains it helped build when it joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001.  But even with these forces at play, there are reasons t...

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