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“The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.”
—Peter F. Drucker

This book is for businesspeople, professionals, students, and others who want to develop a better understanding of the region —the New Asia— that is shaking up the global economy. Today, people and organizations everywhere are affected by the global economy, whether or not they are actively participating in international trade or other global activities, and the New Asia comprises a significant and expanding piece of the action. A small retail business in a rural area of Canada or Argentina sells clothing made in Bangladesh. A new cell phone sold in Australia was assembled in the Philippines with components manufactured in Taiwan and technology invented in the United States. People and organizations everywhere are becoming increasingly aware of the growing influence of the New Asia in their daily lives.

And Asia is no longer just a place where the goods we consume are manufactured at low cost. As the economies of Asian countries have grown, so have the disposable incomes of their own consumers and their thirst for the products and services available from within and outside Asia. Asia has become a large market for goods and services sourced or developed elsewhere. Its populations comprise approximately 3.4 billion people, almost half of the world’s population of approximately 7.1 billion.

A growing number of people and businesses around the world are directly involved in commercial activities in Asia. Organizations based outside of Asia with markets or operations in Asia are constantly looking for new opportunities in Asia. Organizations in one Asian country are considering entering markets or starting operations in another Asian country. And many businesses everywhere are considering entering Asian markets for the first time, contemplating investments in Asian companies or projects, or planning collaborations with Asian firms for activities inside or outside Asia.

Knowledge of the New Asia and its key countries will be of great value to readers of this book as they pursue their own interests and endeavors in Asia, whether they currently reside outside Asia or in one of Asia’s countries. An understanding of what makes the region tick—an understanding of the people, governments, institutions, and business practices of the region and its member countries—will enable readers to discover opportunities and avoid risks when interacting with counterparts in the region, entering Asian markets, investing there, evaluating the impact of Asia on their activities elsewhere, or simply visiting Asia.

The New Asia is on its way to becoming the dominant economic region in our global economy. There is a Big Shift occurring in balance of power and influence in our globalized world as a result of the growing economic heft of Asia. The strengths of three other principal economic regions are waning. In Europe, several countries are in dire economic straits as a result of unmanageable sovereign debt. The Middle East, despite its oil riches, is in turmoil. And in North America, the United States is burdened with high debt and a dysfunctional political system. Already China is exerting a strong influence on the political and economic affairs of countries within Asia and in other regions around the world, and India is gradually developing a similar influence.

But the New Asia is not just about these two big players, China and India. It is about a synergistic grouping of these two plus 14 other key countries that are finding that collaboration and interdependence bring economic progress for all of them in our globalized world.

The New Asia is a dynamic mix of countries with their own largely unique populations, governments, institutions, and business communities.

While there are many similarities in their cultures, values, and social systems, there are also significant differences. Recognizing these similarities and differences will help the readers of this book capture the many opportunities to be found in the New Asia and elude the pitfalls.

There are five basic economic elements—the Five Factors—that are driving and sometimes impeding the growth of the New Asia. They are discussed in this book as (1) Resources and Geography, (2) Governments, (3) Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, (4) Competitive Business Practices, and (5) Cultures and Social Institutions. These elements are examined in depth, and insights are provided that will enable readers to discern where opportunities and risks may lie. The book is forward-looking in this regard, but it supplies historical background and economic data that are helpful in applying the Five Factors to potential opportunities and risks. It also examines what might go wrong for the economic progress of the region or that of an individual Asian country.

Separately, it pinpoints areas where opportunities can best be found, and it furnishes insights, pathways, and tips for success in the region. Several Asian countries are omitted from the coverage of this book: North Korea because of its opaque government and its lack of economic integration with the global economy; Pakistan because of its weak integration with the economies of other Asian countries; Laos because its economy, while emerging, is not yet well developed or integrated with the economies of the region; and countries like Bhutan, Brunei, and Nepal because their economies are small and limited in diversity.

Much of this book examines issues relating to individual countries— their economies, people, governments, cultures, institutions, and business practices. But in the final chapter, we take a look at the region as a whole in terms of the Five Factors and matters that might encumber its remarkable growth in the future. Our conclusion is that the New Asia will continue to grow in power and influence in the global economy for years to come.