Thursday, October 22, 2015

South Korea growth at five-year high; Thailand forecasts record tourists; UAE fifth richest on built assets per capita

1 South Korea growth at five-year high (BBC) South Korean economic growth hit a five-year high in the third quarter of the year, coming in ahead of estimates. The country's economy grew 2.6% in the three months to September over the same period the previous year. From the second quarter, growth was up 1.2%, marking the biggest jump since 2010.

South Korea's economy had been held back by the effects of the deadly Mers virus affecting tourism and domestic spending in the first half of the year. A weakening global demand had hit the country's exports with car maker Hyundai just yesterday releasing disappointing results.

Yet the central bank's data showed that a sharp recovery in domestic demand more than offset the drop in exports. The weaker growth rates over the past quarters had led to the government launching various stimulus packages and the central bank to lower interest rates twice this year hoping to boost growth and spending.

2 Thailand forecasts record tourists (San Francisco Chronicle) A deadly bombing in August threatened to scuttle Thailand's economically crucial tourism industry but officials are now forecasting more than 30 million visitors this year as arrivals from China swell.

The bounce back reinforces the teflon reputation of Thai tourism, which has thrived over the past decade despite two coups, episodes of deadly street fighting, airport occupations and natural disasters.

Thailand's tourism council is forecasting a record 30.3 million visitors this year, an increase of 22 percent from last year. Chinese tourists are expected to total 8.1 million, rising by three quarters from 2014. Only a small number of countries attract more than 30 million tourists a year, among them France, China, the US, Spain and Turkey. Thailand was aiming for 28.8 million tourists this year.

Tour operators say Thailand's resilience reflects the variety it offers from high-end shopping in busy Bangkok to idyllic beaches in the south and laid back small cities in the north. Thailand has also cultivated a reputation for friendliness and value that is particularly appealing in countries such as China, which has only recently reached income levels high enough for large numbers of people to travel abroad on holidays.

3 UAE fifth richest on built assets per capita (Khaleej Times) The UAE has become the world's fifth richest country per capita measured by the value of its built environment according to the latest Global Built Asset Wealth Index published by Arcadis, the leading global Design & Consultancy firm for natural and built assets. The UAE makes up the top five behind Qatar, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, with built assets of $140,500 for every citizen.

The index calculates the value of all the buildings and infrastructure that contribute to economic productivity in 32 countries, which collectively make up 87 per cent of global GDP. "The health and wealth of a nation can be measured in many different ways and while factors such as GDP or employment have great value, a prosperous society is underpinned by a well-developed built environment that meets the needs of its people and economy," said Alan Richell, head of Business Advisory in the Middle East at Arcadis.

"To date, Dubai alone has built 190 skyscrapers since the millennium and is developing its economic diversification plans even further in sectors such as tourism, financial services and education."
Qatar and Singapore stand comfortably ahead of the pack on built assets per capita, at $198,000 and $192,000 respectively. The countries near the top of this ranking are disproportionately made up of smaller nations, either by population or area, so the density of the built asset stock is much greater per resident.

Total built asset wealth globally now stands at an estimated $218 trillion, which is the equivalent to $30,700 per person alive today. The stock of built assets is closely correlated with a nation's economic output. On average, countries analyzed have a built asset stock worth 2.9 times GDP. China now has a built asset wealth of $47.6trillion, overtaking the USA which comes second with a wealth of $36.8trillion.

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