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Op-eds and Opinion

ADB management and subject experts share knowledge, views, and insights on development issues in op-ed articles and opinion pieces published in international and regional publications.

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  • Over the past decade most nations sharing the Mekong river have enjoyed a period of unprecedented growth and plummeting poverty rates. While the majority of the Mekong countries produce a proportionately small share of global greenhouse gas emissions, their growth has been largely fuelled by carbon-based energy, and as they continue to grow, so too will their carbon output.
  • The adage used to be that when the US sneezed, Asia caught a cold. These days, some people are saying that when the US catches a cold, Asia merely sneezes. Or, in other words, they say the Asian economy is decoupling from the US. In actual fact, in an increasingly globalised economy, it matters little who sneezes or who catches the cold. It is about formulating the right medicine - the right policy mix - to stay healthy and avoid a germ becoming a systemic infection.
  • Rapid, sustainable growth remains the best weapon to combat poverty and merge the two faces of Asia. Asia's economic success has caught global attention. It is a journey that began with Japan emerging as an industrialised nation, followed by ascension of Asia's "Newly Industrialised Economies" (NIEs), and more recently the emergence of new economic powerhouses - the People's Republic of China (PRC) and India.
  • In many respects the countries of Southeast Asia cooperate with each other quite well on matters of importance. There are still territorial disputes, problems over the illegal migration and the trade of controlled substances, and what to do with Myanmar, but certainly compared to a few decades ago, the countries of Southeast Asia have found ways to work together. One reward has been an expansion of trade and travel in the region.
  • We may be at the "make-or-break" moment for global free trade. Although bilateral trade deals are becoming more common, consensus on the multilateral Doha Round is still elusive. Many leaders have called for progress on Doha, but rallying political support at home for dramatic trade liberalization is always challenging. So at this critical juncture, it is most important that we continue to give special attention to those economies that can actually benefit most from the Doha Round -- the least developed countries and smaller states.
  • Developing Asia's stellar growth rates have masked rapidly rising income inequalities. This poses a threat to sustaining the region's dynamic growth and social cohesion. The creation of productive employment opportunities has to be the central pillar of policy response.
  • What a difference 10 years makes. In 1997, money was leaving Thailand extremely fast to cover short-term debt repayments. A lot of that had to come from foreign exchange reserves, so much so that the country did not have enough to pay everyone. Investors banking on the Asian "Tigers" took their money out too, and that sapped the value out of the baht. The result: financial crisis. Today, we have the reverse. The flow of money is in Thailand's favour and, if anything, the authorities are trying to control the pressures for the baht's appreciation in value.
  • Every day, Asia's cities expand by about 120,000 people, a level of urbanization unprecedented in human history. For many, this conjures up visions of an apocalyptic urban nightmare in which Asia's population will increasingly inhabit a twilight world of teeming, filthy, polluted streets. However, the reality could be a whole lot rosier, for both Asia's urban poor and the environment.
  • India's future is bright, but its continued economic progress is not preordained. The challenge of sustaining growth that is equitable is formidable. Policies and institutions will have to play a key role if it wants to tap the opportunities associated with catching up with its Asian peers and harness globalization.
  • The bad news, however, is that such rapid growth does not come without a cost. Economic growth is essential to overcome poverty. This should, however, not happen at the expense of the environment and the chances of future generations to utilise Asia's natural resources. Currently, some 44 million people are being added to Asia's urban population every year, equivalent to 120,000 people a day. This trend is expected to continue. The United Nations forecasts Asia's urban population to reach almost 2 billion people by 2015, or nearly half the regional population.