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ASEAN ANALYSIS

Asean Affairs    2 August  2011

Spreading the wealth and sustainability will challenge Asia

By  David Swartzemtruber

 
AseanAffairs     2  August 2011

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Although the 21st century has been hailed as the “Asian century” and the sprawling continent could be as wealthy as Europe by the middle of the century, key challenges must be addressed, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said today.

Asia is expected to account for half of the globe’s economic output by 2050 and 3 billion more people will have joined the affluent class, the bank reports. The aggregate gross domestic product of Asia will reach US$174 trillion in 2050 with a per capita GDP of $40,800 in current dollars.

This historic transformation will be led by seven economies: China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia.

However, as is now the current situation, there will remain vast numbers of poor and the challenge will be to spread that wealth around through political engineering that Japan, South Korea and Singapore have already accomplished. Half of the world’s poor reside in Asia and make less than $1.25 a day.

Sustainability is also another key component of Asian growth and that points to developing alternative energy sources and addressing issues that seem endemic to some Asian countries, “rising inequality within and between countries, poor governance and corruption in many of them, and intensifying regional competition for finite natural resources,” the bank states.

This rise of the affluent will also put pressure on food and water and the joker in the deck is the issue of climate change that “threatens to melt the glaciers that run from the Himalayas and other mountain ranges to feed Asia's major rivers, which provide water, food, fish and power for 2.8 billion people.”

The rise of Asia in the next 40 years is not a given or “slam dunk” but a process that will challenge the best of governments (and the worse) on this economic path that will be filled with plenty of landmines.


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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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