The strong US dollar and higher labor costs in the US have been competitive disadvantages for domestic manufacturers -- and not just in the furniture industry. But conditions are beginning to change. Over the past year, the value of the US dollar has fallen 9%. Unfortunately, economic circumstances in the US suggest that gains may not be forthcoming within US borders. Rather, the real growth is presenting itself outside the borders. The world's economy will perform much better than that of the US over the next year. To no one's surprise, the fastest growing region of the world is East Asia and the Pacific, which has grown at a 7.1% annual rate from 1995-2005 and has picked up speed in recent years. South Asia is often hailed as having great growth potential as well. Developing countries in Europe and Central Asia are the next best opportunity for growth in 2008.