Developing Asia and the economies of the Association of South-east Asian Nations continue to lead global economic recovery, with a forecasted gross domestic product growth rate of 7.3% and 5.3%, respectively, in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest update of the World Economic Outlook.

The IMF's updated figures released in January maintain that emerging economies will generally perform above the world average growth rate of 3.3% in 2012, with sub-Saharan Africa growing by 5.5%, and Latin America and Middle East and north Africa (MENA) growing by 3.6% and 3.2%, respectively.

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“Despite the deterioration in the external environment, as well as the slowdown in domestic demand in key emerging economies, developing Asia is still projected to grow most rapidly,” the IMF said in an official statement. “The impact of the global slowdown on sub-Saharan Africa has to date been limited to a few countries, most notably South Africa, and the region’s output is expected to expand in 2012.”

The IMF expects that economic activity in the MENA region will accelerate over the coming year, driven mainly by the recovery in Libya and the continued strong performance of other oil exporters.

Overall activity in the advanced economies is now projected to expand by just 1.2% in 2012. Furthermore, adverse spillover effects are expected to be felt the most in central and eastern Europe, given the region’s strong trade and financial links with the eurozone economies. The IMF’s outlook for the eurozone, however, remains relatively bleak, and it maintains that the euro area will fall into a mild recession in 2012 after it entered a “perilous new phase” towards the end of 2011, affecting other parts of the world, including the US.