Commercial spending in the Asia Pacific region in 2008 grew by 13.6%, to US$23.4 trillion (15.7 trillion euros) from US$20.6 trillion the previous year, according to Visa Inc.'s annual global Commercial Consumption Expenditure Index released last week. Asia Pacific economies with the highest level of commercial consumption last year were China ($7.2 trillion), Japan ($6.2 trillion), India ($2.7 trillion), South Korea ($2.1 trillion) and Australia ($1.5 trillion), accounting for 84% of the region's total, Visa says. "The increase in 2008 spending in Asia Pacific demonstrates the strength of the region as a whole and that the engine of these economies—business—continues to work hard, despite global financial uncertainties," Bruce Mansfield, regional head of Visa's commercial solutions in Asia Pacific, said in a press release. Mansfield cited such emerging economies as Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam as markets that experienced the strongest growth rates, which were between 29% and 40%. "The real story about growth rates comes from the small but rapidly developing emerging economies in the region," he said. "These growth rates in commercial spending are clear signs of rapid advancement in Asia's emerging economies."

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