The Economic Powerhouses: Meet the Biggest Economies in Southeast Asia

The Economic Powerhouses: Meet the Biggest Economies in Southeast Asia

Asia, the continent that is home to more than half of the world's population. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), about 80% of Asia's developing economies are classified by the World Bank as middle-income, the highest percentage among developing regions.

In 2021, foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to developing Asia will increase by 19% to a record high of $619 billion. China, India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates are the main recipients of FDI in the region. Asian companies also contribute about $19 trillion annually to the global economy.

But in this article we will focus only on Southeast Asia, a sub-region whose economies have undergone a remarkable transformation over the past few decades, bringing the region to the forefront of the global stage. The data used in this article comes from the IMF's 2022 GDP.

Philippines (GDP: $404 billion)

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In Asia's dynamic economic landscape, the Philippines has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. According to PwC projections, the Philippines will secure its position among the world's top 20 economies by 2050. The country's remarkable growth trajectory has caught the attention of global economic experts, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which forecasts robust economic growth of 6% for the Philippines by 2023.

Not only is the Philippines on the path to economic prosperity, but it is also poised to join the ranks of upper-middle-income countries, according to the ADB. With these promising prospects, the island nation is attracting the attention of investors and stakeholders around the world. The Philippines' rise to economic excellence is a testament to its resilience, strategic policies, and unwavering commitment to progress.

Vietnam (GDP: $407 billion)

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In the midst of a dynamic economic landscape in Southeast Asia, the country's industrial strength has earned it the honorable title of manufacturing hub. However, after experiencing 8% GDP growth in 2022, Vietnam's economy has seen a slowdown, expanding by 3.3% in the first quarter of 2023.

This slowdown is largely due to Vietnam's two largest trading partners, the United States and the European Union, which are currently experiencing an economic slowdown. Nevertheless, Vietnam's economy remains strong, with a remarkable GDP of $407 billion in 2022.

Malaysia (GDP: $408 billion)

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With a remarkable 5.8% GDP growth in Q1 2023, Malaysia's GDP is outpacing its regional peers such as Vietnam and Indonesia. Moreover, the country's projected GDP of $408 billion in 2022 will rise to $780 billion by 2032. These remarkable results reflect Malaysia's unwavering commitment to progress and its ability to capitalize on opportunities in an ever-evolving global economy.

In addition to the country's economic triumphs, a recent buzz emerged in 2023 when Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) unveiled its plans to establish a retail presence in Malaysia. The tech giant's move not only underscores Malaysia's appeal as a promising market, but also serves as evidence of the country's growing importance in the global business landscape.

Singapore (GDP: $467 billion)

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With a population of just over 5 million, Singapore exudes the allure of an unrivaled global economic powerhouse. Known for having the highest GDP per capita in Asia and one of the highest in the world, Singapore is an economic powerhouse. In 2022, the country is projected to have a GDP of US$467 billion. The Singapore Department of Statistics also expects economic growth to be in the range of 0.5-2% in 2023.

Thailand (GDP: $536 billion)

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After travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic were lifted in May 2022, Thailand's economy rebounded with renewed vigor. The GDP growth rate is projected to increase significantly in the first quarter of 2023, at a rate of 2.7%, surpassing the 1.4% growth in the last quarter of 2022. Not only that, the size of the country's economy is also impressive, standing at $536 billion according to the IMF. Thailand is one of the most promising countries in Southeast Asia. With its global tourism sector, Thailand has the second highest GDP in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia (GDP: $1.3 trillion)

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With a GDP that is expected to reach a staggering $1.3 trillion by 2022, Indonesia is proud to be the largest economy in Southeast Asia. Not only that, but Indonesia is also seen as a promising market among other emerging economies. PwC projections also show that Indonesia will become the world's fourth largest economy by 2050. This success is also reflected in its membership in the elite G20 group.

Looking ahead, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) forecasts that Indonesia's economic growth will increase to 4.8% by 2023 and even reach 5% by 2024.

Although the region is dominated by developing countries, the economic power of Southeast Asia cannot be ignored. Some of the countries mentioned above are even influential regionally in Asia and even globally.

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