Apparel and beauty firms are eager to find new global markets with burgeoning fashionistas, especially in the all-important Far East. With Japan’s economy recovering slowly, the hunt is on for the next big spenders. No one in the region matches Japan’s per capita spending of $24,900 in 2000, but there may be other opportunities. Meanwhile, growth in the developed West remains modest.







The 10 advanced countries with the fastest growing economies(Measured in percentage increase of gross domestic product or GDP)







1



Ireland



2001 GDP growth rate: 5.9 percent; 2002: 3.8 percent; 2003: 5.3 percent



Ireland’s economic growth has consistently been among the highest of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries. Credit the favorable demographics and young population. Per capita spending in 2000: $21,600.







2



Greece



2001 GDP growth rate: 4.1 percent; 2002: 3.7 percent; 2003: 3.2 percent



Before Greece dumped the drachma for the euro, the country was plagued by high inflation. The new currency forced the government to balance the budget and slash the deficit. Per capita spending in 2000: $17,200.







3



Luxembourg



2001 GDP growth rate: 3.5 percent; 2002: 2.7 percent; 2003: 5.1 percent



Luxembourg has a stable, high-income economy and an industrial sector dominated by steel. The country is one of the most successful in the world at attracting foreign investors. Per capita spending in 2000: $36,400







4



Spain



2001 GDP growth rate: 2.7 percent; 2002: 2 percent; 2003: 2.7 percent



Since 1996, the year pro-business President Jose Maria Aznar came into office, Spain’s economy has grown faster than that of any large EU nation and consumer spending increased. Per capita purchasing power in 2000: $18,000.





5



Australia



2001 GDP growth rate: 2.6 percent; 2002: 4 percent; 2003: 3.8 percent



Australia’s economy emerged virtually unscathed from the crisis that engulfed the Asia-Pacific region in the late Nineties. Deregulation spurred productivity and growth without igniting inflation. Per capita spending in 2000: $23,200







6



New Zealand



2001 GDP growth rate: 2.5 percent; 2002: 3 percent; 2003: 2.9 percent



The country’s heavy dependence on trade leaves it vulnerable to economic conditions in other parts of the world, so the government is trying to improve ties with large market countries like the U.S. Per capita purchasing power in 2000: $17,700.







7



United Kingdom



2001 GDP growth rate: 1.9 percent; 2002: 1.7 percent; 2003: 2.4 percent



So far, strong consumer demand and a booming housing market have helped keep the U.K. economy buoyant despite the global slowdown and recession in manufacturing. Per capita spending in 2000: $22,800.







8



France



2001 GDP growth rate: 1.8 percent; 2002: 1.2 percent; 2003: 2.3 percent



There was strong consumer spending in the first three quarters of 2001, but that confidence began to wane in the fourth quarter. The French aren’t ready to give up their croissants and couture yet, however. Per capita spending in 2000: $24,400.







9



Italy



2001 GDP growth rate: 1.8 percent; 2002: 0.7 percent; 2003: 2.3 percent



Fiat’s troubles are Italy’s troubles. The ailing car manufacturer dominates Italy’s economy, accounting for 5 percent of the gross domestic product and 25 percent of sector workers. Per capita spending in 2000: $22,100.





10



Portugal



2001 GDP growth rate: 1.7 percent; 2002: 0.4 percent; 2003: 1.5 percent



Portugal has had robust economic growth since 1993. Its 10 million consumers spent $15,800 per capita and are developing increasingly sophisticated tastes.







The 10 countries in the Far East with the fastest growing economies (Measured in percentage increase of gross domestic product or GDP)







1



China, People’s Republic



2001 GDP growth rate: 7.3 percent; 2002: 7.5 percent; 2003: 7.2 percent



Every fashion company dreams of tapping the market in China — the world’s fourth-largest trading power. Shanghai has 17 million trend-conscious and affluent consumers. Per capita spending in 2000: $12,000.







2



Cambodia



2001 GDP growth rate: 6.3 percent; 2002: 4.5 percent; 2003: 6 percent



Tourism is Cambodia’s fastest growing industry. The government is making progress in implementing an economic reform program and inflation remains low. Per capita spending in 2000: $1,300.







3



Bhutan



2001 GDP growth rate: 5.9 percent; 2002: 6 percent; 2003: 5.7 percent



Bhutan has one of the world’s smallest and least developed economies. Ninety-percent of the population is involved in farming or forestry. Per capita spending in 2000: $1,100.







4



Laos



2001 GDP growth rate: 5.2 percent; 2002: 5.5 percent; 2003: 6 percent



Subsistence agriculture accounts for half of the country’s GDP and employs 80 percent of the population. The country’s economy is largely dependent on aid. Per capita spending in 2000: $1,700.





5



Vietnam



2001 GDP growth rate: 5 percent; 2002: 5.3 percent; 2003: 6.5 percent



The former Communist country has embraced a market-based consumer-driven economy. Consumers are hooked on a localized version of "Wheel of Fortune" and city-dwellers carry cell phones. Per capita spending in 2000: $1,900.







6



Maldives



2001 GDP growth rate: 4.9 percent; 2002: 1.2 percent; 2003: 7 percent



Tourism, the Maldives’ largest industry, accounts for about 35 percent of the country’s GDP, but global warming threatens the islands. Per capita spending in 2000: $2,000.







7



Myanmar



2001 GDP growth rate: 4.8 percent; 2002: 4.2 percent; 2003: 4.8 percent



Myanmar’s long-term economic prospects are good due to the country’s broad range of natural resources. Problems include political instability with charges of sweatshop labor. Per capita spending in 2000: $1,500.







8



Indonesia



2001 GDP growth rate: 3.3 percent; 2002: 3.5 percent; 2003: 4.5 percent



Economic growth in Indonesia is fueled by the expansion of agricultural output and healthy domestic spending. Luxury boutiques and fancy new cars in Jakarta attest to the strong consumer demand. Per capita spending in 2000: $2,900.







9



Philippines



2001 GDP growth rate: 3.2 percent; 2002: 4. percent; 2003: 3.8 percent



The political situation is relatively stable, the economy is improving and inflation has declined. Per capita spending in 2000: $3,800.







10

South Korea



2001 GDP growth rate: 3 percent; 2002: 6.3 percent; 2003: 5.9 percent



Department stores are still crowded in South Korea, but there are signs that consumer confidence may be ebbing over worries about the volatile U.S. stock market. Per capita spending in 2000: $16,100.







SOURCES: World Economic Outlook, September 2002,International Monetary Fund; www.geographic.org

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