Friday, October 21, 2016

Asia and the Global Balance of Power
Continual financial crises and slow recoveries have taken their toll on traditionally powerful countries, placing eastern nations at the center of discussion about future leaders

Author: Iramsy Peraza Forte |
October 13, 2016 14:10:24

Asian countries have restructured their traditional economies to become the world's fasting growing nations. Photo: AsiaNews.

A new world order is germinating in the far east of our planet. In the not too distant future, the rapid development and healthy economies of several Asian nations will challenge the supremacy which traditional powers have enjoyed for centuries.

The continent's positive economic statistics indicate that it is the world's fastest growing region. Continual financial crises and slow recoveries have taken their toll on traditionally powerful countries, placing eastern nations at the center of discussion about future leaders.

World Bank projections indicate that this region, mainly composed of developing and emergent nations, will grow 4.8% in 2016; 5% in 2017; and 5.1% in 2018 - figures that confirm its progress despite difficulties and slow global recovery.  

Japan, which has historically been among the powerful, and China as an emerging economy, are being joined by other Asian states with enviable growth rates.

Economists explain that several factors have allowed for the positive development of the region, especially noteworthy given the era of crises. On the one hand, they point to the geographic location which facilitates access to maritime transportation for exports, and the relative proximity of nations.

Also recognized is the fact that these Asian countries have taken advantage of foreign investment to strengthen their industrial base. Policies that have led to extensive investment have raised questions about the impact on human beings, since the attraction of cheap labor for transnationals has led to super-exploitation.

Decisive to avoiding the spiral of crises which engulfed others was the implementation of a series of policies - such as the granting of credit in strategic industries; promoting technology; and synchronization of the public and private sectors, with the state playing a fundamental role.


The growth trend of economies in the Far East was led for many years by the so-called "Asian Tigers." This group included Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, which achieved impressive growth over the last few decades, thanks to their focus on advanced technology, import-substitution policies, and the promotion of exports.

In the majority of these countries (with the exception of Singapore where multi-nationals play a fundamental role) the government largely controls foreign investment in the modernization process, protecting national interests and the expectations of local business.

Since they did not have raw materials to export, these nations took industry as their economic axis, to stimulate development that has placed them among the top spots in world rankings of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita.

The positive positions of Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea are evidence of their ability to function as financial centers and commercial hubs, their high rates of growth, and unemployment much lower than that of other countries.


Asia's dynamism is not limited to these four states. Other nations more recently industrialized, like Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia also stand out on the world's largest continent. Their development, along with that of India, the world's seventh largest economy, and Vietnam, as the best example of progress, could mean, experts say, a shift in the global economic map.

Over the last few years, Southeast Asia has been reconfigured as a region, struggling to overcome poverty and dependence on agriculture or some other primary activity, to make the economic transition to industrialization.

Members of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) are considering going beyond their political alliance to become an important economic bloc that would no doubt increase the region's influence.

Within this context, ASEAN members, led by Malaysia, Indonesia, (with the group's largest economy), Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand, could take advantage of the slow recovery in more developed states and establish new networks among emerging markets.

If this decision is made, the panorama could be encouraging, since almost all of these economies will surpass their 2016 projections for growth. Several experts agree that, while it would be wrong to say that none of these countries are experiencing the effects of the world crisis, they are also quick to point out that Asia's emerging economies may avoid this pitfall because they took timely steps to deal with external factors, and stimulated internal demand to compensate for income lost due to the decrease in exports.

Vietnam's economy began to take off in the 1980s after the long, cruel war, and is the best example illustrating Asia's economic performance. The country boasts one of the highest growth rates in the world, has multiplied its GDP by five, and diversified its exports.

While the world economy was dominated by traditional powers, like the United States, Germany, France, Japan, and Britain, in the 20th century, in this new era, countries on the Asian continent, plus BRICS members (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), are looking to change this panorama, and perhaps assume the role of leaders in the future.

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