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The bird's eye view

Sometimes, our clients know exactly what kind of company they want to find when they start a search in scoutAsia's database. Often they have at least a sector or a country in mind. But we know there are also occasions when your parameters are broader or your mandate much more vague.

In those cases, the best place to start may be the macro picture of a particular economy. To help with this type of top-down enquiry, we have built a page of macro statistics for our 24 countries, that you can now find on the top menu bar of our web app under "Countries & Regions". In a week when China has announced another slowing in its growth rate -- albeit a very gradual one to 6.2% for Q2 -- a quick look at our new table shows that by next year, eight other countries we cover will be enjoying faster GDP expansion. There appear to be two clusters: south Asia, anchored by India, which is pulling along Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal in its wake. And Asean, where Vietnam and the smaller frontier markets of Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos are all growing very rapidly.

Meanwhile, north Asia apart from China, is only expanding at 2-3% these days, with Japan and Taiwan struggling to reach even those levels. Of course, these economies are much more advanced and still contain some rapidly-growing sectors, such as robotics, software or certain aspects of health care. By and large, however, it suggests that corporates looking to expand sales and investors in search of targets should be looking at the lesser-developed economies of south and south-east Asia. Indeed, there has been a steady flow of announcements recently from big manufacturing companies that are relocating capacity out of China and into the Asean region, particularly Vietnam.

The absolute size of an economy is another important filter, though -- there is little point in getting excited about rapid growth in Bhutan or Laos if the markets there are so small that they are not worth entering. So the first and last columns of the table, which show absolute GDP and the size of the population provide a sense check. We have also updated each individual country page with a table that gives more specific data points. Here is an example. 

Finally, I wanted to note that we have started to add photographs, charts and tables to our news feeds -- beginning with the Financial Times, scoutAsia Research and VnExpress. Others will be updated gradually and we hope that this will significantly increase the visual appeal of our service and bring added context to our articles. 

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