GENEVA — Export demand is expected to continue fueling robust economic growth for Asian apparel exporters Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam, a United Nations report said.In 2016, growth in Bangladesh, the world's second-largest exporter of apparel, reached a decade-high rate of 7.1 percent, the report said, concluding "net exports of goods and services drove the overall economic expansion as a result of steady export growth, mainly in ready-made garments."For this year, and 2018, analysts at the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, or ESCAP, project economic growth in Bangladesh to remain high at 6.5 percent to 6.8 percent.Similarly, ESCAP in its "Economic and Social Survey for Asia and the Pacific 2017" study, was upbeat about the outlook for Cambodia. That nation's economic growth "remained solid at 7.2 percent in 2016," it said, attributing a large share of the gains to garment exports."Exports of ready-made garments, accounting for about 80 percent of exports, continued to expand well as a result of privileges enabling countries such as Cambodia to gain access in developed countries."Looking ahead, ESCAP forecast Cambodia's economic growth to "remain rapid at 7.1 to 7.2 percent during the period 2017-2018," and also noted, "exports are set to grow further."The U.N. said the near-term outlook was also positive for neighboring Vietnam, with economic growth estimated at around 6.5 percent to 6.7 percent during 2017-2018."Exports are expected to remain buoyant in the face of stronger import demand in the U.S., which accounts for almost a quarter of Vietnam's shipments," it said.The Bangkok-based U.N. agency said that continued "relocation of businesses in search of low-cost manufacturing activities, particularly in China, would support private investment."With regards to China, the world' biggest emerging economy, ESCAP said output growth is projected to "soften further" to 6.5 percent in 2017, down from 6.7 percent last year. The report argued consumer spending is likely to fuel China's growth, as exports are expected "to improve only gradually in the wake of rising protectionism."But the report also voiced concerns over China's ballooning debt situation."China had an estimated 270 percent debt-to-GDP ratio in 2016, mostly driven by the real estate sector and private firms. The country's rapid credit growth is increasingly a cause for concern amid capital outflows and domestic currency depreciation."
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