What is good for Asia is good for the world

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Asia’s role in spear­head­ing the global re­cov­ery of travel and tourism was ac­knowl­edged by World Travel Awards 2011 Asia and Aus­trala­sia Cer­e­mony held in Bangkok on Septem­ber 28.

The awards pro­gramme, hailed as the ‘Os­cars of the travel in­dus­try,’ noted that Asia has ex­pe­ri­enced dou­ble-digit growth in tourist ar­rivals dur­ing the first half of 2011, de­spite the im­pact of the tsunami in Ja­pan and the on-go­ing aus­ter­ity chal­lenges in Europe and North Amer­ica.

Gra­ham E Cooke, Pres­i­dent and Founder, World Travel Awards, un­der­lined how Asia’s strong per­for­mance this year is be­ing fu­elled by a surge in in­tra-re­gional travel.

He said: “The bur­geon­ing mid­dle classes in emerg­ing mar­kets such as In­dia, China and Malaysia are fu­elling a surge in in­tra-Asia travel. We ex­pect this growth to con­tinue for at least the next decade, mak­ing the fu­ture very bright in­deed for the lux­ury hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor.”

This in­tra-Asia ac­tiv­ity closely rep­re­sents United Asia, which proved to be more re­silient and showed quick re­cov­ery in the wake of the 2008 global eco­nomic cri­sis. United Asia is a re­sult of Asian coun­tries work­ing to­gether in mul­ti­ple ways to bring their economies closer, by build­ing roads and bridges and sign­ing free trade agree­ments. Neigh­bour­ing coun­tries in Asia now en­joy links through smooth new high­ways and in­no­va­tive busi­nesses spring­ing up along the road­side. The rel­a­tively huge pop­u­la­tion of Asia makes ‘what is good for Asia is good for the world’ sound more plau­si­ble. The ex­change of cul­ture and trade has brought more Asian economies close to each other’s vast hu­man and nat­u­ral re­sources. There are no more for­bid­den bor­der sta­tions be­tween the coun­tries and the of­fi­cials have been en­gaged in sim­pli­fy­ing cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tions reg­u­la­tions for an easy pas­sage of peo­ple and goods.

Thus, the re­gion as a whole grew by 7.4 per­cent in 2010. This dy­namic growth rate of Asian economies is im­pres­sive and has re­lieved hundreds of mil­lions of peo­ple of poverty. Sub­ject to re­gional in­te­gra­tion, till 1997 eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion in the Asian re­gion was fo­cused on mar­kets or pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors. How­ever, the last decade saw the cur­rents of re­gional in­te­gra­tion mov­ing

across sub-re­gions through ad­dress­ing of reg­u­la­tory frame­works of so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues. In this way, the sub­re­gions of Asia emerged as independent strong economies.

Ac­cord­ing to Anoop Singh, Di­rec­tor of Asia and Pa­cific Depart­ment at the IMF, the Asian re­gion was se­verely hit through both trade and fi­nan­cial chan­nels dur­ing the cri­sis. Exports fell through­out the re­gion, cap­i­tal flowed out of Asia and in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion dropped sharply. But Asia’s eco­nomic re­bound was quick due to a col­lec­tive ac­tion from pol­i­cy­mak­ers, ro­bust govern­ment spend­ing and mone­tary ac­com­mo­da­tion with mea­sures to re­store and sta­bi­lize fi­nan­cial mar­kets.

In this re­gard, the role of In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund (IMF) is also sig­nif­i­cant. IMF dis­plays full en­gage­ment with the re­gion. It has en­hanced the sur­veil­lance struc­tures for a stronger re­gional fo­cus of Asia, re­designed the lend­ing fa­cil­i­ties to meet the needs of de­vel­op­ing coun­tries and made Asia more re­source­ful through the Spe­cial Draw­ing Rights (SDR) al­lo­ca­tion. At the re­cent G-20 sum­mit, IMF has also made a com­mit­ment to in­crease vot­ing rights for emerg­ing mar­kets and de­vel­op­ing economies.

With this con­tin­ued pace of pros­per­ity, ex­perts are wait­ing for the next big thing to hap­pen in Asia. Whether it will be the adop­tion of a sin­gle Asian currency like the Euro, or a gi­ant free trade zone like the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Area, or a com­bi­na­tion of both, ex­perts stress on the need of a clear strat­egy for cop­ing with the dif­fer­ences in per capita in­comes, qual­ity of in­sti­tu­tional and hu­man ca­pac­i­ties and the di­verse po­lit­i­cal regimes across Asia. The ben­e­fits of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion and eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion will be long last­ing for a fu­ture United Asia

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