The rise of Asian economies could bring greater balance to world economic growth and improve the well-being of people worldwide, experts said yesterday.
But panelists at the Sasin-Bangkok Forum warned that Asia’s development and its ability to act as the engine of global economic growth was not without pitfalls.
Deborah Lucas, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, said the development of Asian countries was not a zero-sum game.
The rise of the East did not imply the decline of the West and they would balance each other out when the economies of either side were in decline.
However, a richer Asia would have a larger ecological footprint and create a more crowded world.
The world would have to respond by improving international cooperation, not only on trade but also on global problems such as climate change and over-exploitation of oceans, Ms Lucas said.
Income differences among Asian countries and the giant gap with those in the West would pose a challenge as each country had different domestic priorities and abilities to finance the addressing of global concerns.
While Asian countries strive for closer integration, it should not forgo the mutual benefits that would arise from cooperation with the West.
“I’m fearful that Asia may pull back from ties with the West in favour of regionally-focused economic models based on confidence in its growing strength,” Ms Lucas said.
Siqing Peng, professor at Guanghua School of Management, Peking University, said China planned to develop homegrown innovations as the core strength of its economy by 2020.
It would be a long march to success, he said, requiring a change in the thinking of people at various levels and the development of appropriate infrastructure.
Mohanbir Sawhney, professor at Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, said Asian companies should be more focused on adding value to their economy through innovation, brand building and distribution of goods.
The world thinks of Asian products as assembled from parts that are made worldwide. It is time for more Asian companies to build global brands, he said.
Olarn Chaipravat, president of Thailand Trade Representative, said though there were several development models, many of which built on the experiences of Western countries, they must not be adopted without being carefully analysed.
Thailand faces a challenge in bringing in new technology to cope with change in its labour force, and in better utilising its international reserves, Olarn said.
Thailand no longer has an abundance of cheap labour like before, so a logical response for the textile and food sector is to move the labour intensive businesses to neighbouring countries, he said.
An important task for Thailand over the next decade is to ensure its education system produces learned _ not well-taught _ students who will be capable of meeting global demands.
Toemsakdi Krishnamra, the director of Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration, said regionalism and globalisation would force countries to identify their markets more precisely. Asian countries should improve the fundamentals of their economy and create an environment that attracts foreign investment.