The future of Asia: Unleashing the power of trade and governance

Half a century ago, the future of Asia looked quite bleak. Civil and regional conflict ravaged many parts of the region. China was still closed to the world, and in the throes of its Cultural Revolution. India and Pakistan were recovering from wars, Indonesia and the Philippines were under authoritarian rule, and several Central Asian countries were mere shadow states of the former Soviet Union. Since then, Asia has surprised the world: Japan and the rest of East Asia have rapidly become industrialised, and successive years of high growth have been attained by other Asian countries, notably China, India and several countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. This growth has been driven in great part by rapidly expanding trade, with the liberalisation of China in the late 1970s and of India in the 1990s, greater integration among North-east and Southeast Asian countries, and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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