With the United Kingdom voting on whether to stay or leave the European Union this week, most people think the possibility of a British exit, or Brexit, is strictly a European problem.
However, a vote to leave could have severe repercussions for Asia’s former members of the British Commonwealth, as well as Europe.
If the British vote to leave, most analysts predict the country would see a substantial loss of household wealth over time, falling exports, rising prices and possible recession.
However, the UK’s former colonies are also vulnerable to economic pain, said Dan Steinbock, the founder of Difference Group, in the South China Morning Post on Monday. Steinbock has also served as research director at the India, China and America Institute (US) and visiting fellow at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China) and the EU Centre (Singapore).
Steinbock said Hong Kong, with Asia’s biggest trade, investment and financial links with the UK., would suffer the most, followed by Bangladesh, Singapore and Australia.
With the US, Japan and South Korea, as China’s largest trade partners, its not so vulnerable to British portfolio flows or bank claims.
However, the mainland is exposed to Brexit, considering that China reliant on Hong Kong as a financial intermediary.
On top of that, China has increased its economic cooperation with the UK, as evidenced by London’s decision to participate in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and support the renminbi as an international reserve currency. A Brexit could endanger some of these achievements, said Steinbock
If the camp that wants to remain in the EU wins, a relief rally would drive the markets. The pound would appreciate against Asian currencies, the stocks and bonds of Asia’s emerging markets would benefit, while reduced uncertainty would support commodities.
However, if the people vote to leave, the pound would depreciate against the renminbi and other major Asian currencies. Emerging market equities and bonds would be shaken.