Economic activity in Asia was stable overall during 2016, if slightly disappointing expectations set at the outset of the year. The region's economic growth grew by approximately 5.6%, 0.1 percentage points lower than predicted at the beginning of the year. Broken down by region, the People's Republic of China saw growth at 6.6%, while East Asia as a whole expanded by 5.8%. The downward trend in the region as a whole can be attributed to India's surprise demonetization of large bank notes, which knocked its growth rate down 0.3 percentage points from the predicted rate to a still healthy 6.6%. Growth was strong in Southeast Asia, with the Philippines and Malaysia surpassing projections, the region expanded by approximately 4.5% in 2016. In Central Asia, low oil and natural gas prices kept growth rates low, at 1.5%. Moderate growth across the board has been predicted for 2017.
In February 2016, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, aimed at opening up trade between the United States, Canada and 10 countries around the Pacific Rim (including five in Asia), was finally signed . Notably, this was the only new investment treaty that the United States has inked with any Asian country since 2013. Prior to its ratification by the U.S. Congress, in early 2017, newly-elected President Donald J. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the TPP.
The number of new investment arbitrations in Asia in 2016 held steady with previous years at around 3-5 new cases per year, with the exception of 2013, which saw only one new case. Although oil, gas and mining has traditionally been the dominant sector in arbitrations in Asia, 2016 continued previous years' trend of diversification. Of the four arbitrations initiated in 2016, one was in the oil, gas and mining sector, and the balance were in agriculture, fishing and forestry, tourism, and the gaming industry. This is a reflection of ongoing industrial diversification in Asia-2014's biggest sector for new arbitrations was construction, and 2015 saw the majority in electric power and other energy.
Countries in the region have concluded at least 1,051 treaties (including bilateral investment treaties, free trade agreements and other treaties containing investment-related provisions). More than 16% of the region's investment treaties are intraregional (i.e., concluded between only Asian countries), as are almost 13% of the region's investment disputes.
Click here to see our full review, which includes graphical representations of our research.
Click the links below to see our 2016 reviews for other regions.