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Globalization shaping Asia for now

By SONIA KOLESNIKOV-JESSOP, UPI Correspondent   |   April 5, 2005 at 9:46 AM   |   Comments

SINGAPORE, April 5 (UPI) -- In recent years, China and India have wrestled with the challenges of economic globalization. The shrinkage of economic distances between nations has had its merits and costs and the two countries in their own ways have embraced economic reforms and liberalization. But while they remain concerned for the time being about "how to manage globalization", in a not-so-distant future they will eventually start to shape new trends in globalization themselves.

"For the last twenty years, globalization was often seen as Americanization. But with the rise of China and India, I think it changes the way we think about the traditional paradigm of globalization. Looking forward, globalization will increasingly have an Asian face," said Dr Vishakha N Desai, President of the New York-based Asia Society.

"China and India will shake the world," added Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore, at the official opening of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. "An enormous transformation is underway in Asia. Across the region, countries are reforming their methods of governance and the way they decide public policies. They want to catch up and prosper with the rest of the developed world," he noted.

Academics believe India and China have already benefited from globalization even through both economies still face problems.

"It seems the Chinese quite enjoy globalization in as much as their exports have increased steadily," said Professor Fan Gang, director of the National Economic Research Institute at the China Reform Foundation during a conference organized by the school.

"Globalization can cut two ways...in the case of India, globalization has been a boon. India has made critical use of it-maybe more so even than China-to restructure its economy and leverage growth," added Professor Kaushik Basu from Cornell University.

China faced tremendous risks in opening its doors to the outside world when it agreed to joined the World Trade Organization. Yet since 1993, China has ranked first in attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) and these have in turn facilitated the development of trade.

As a result, China's trade balance rose from $20.6 billion in 1978 to $1.15 trillion in 2004, ranking third in the world.

"In the whole process of opening up and development with globalization in China, FDI has played the most important and most positive role. This is not only because investors introduced capital and technology, but also and perhaps more importantly, because they introduced business experience and management know-how," Gang said.

Such a spillover effect of foreign investment is critical for a developing nation that wants to catch up in technology and institution building. "Foreign direct investors can be a forceful lobbying group, pushing a country to make changes in institutions and policies in the direction of international compatibility," Gang also noted.

Professor Zhang Xiaoji, director general of the foreign economic relations department at the Development Research Centre of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, believes the international environment will have more influence on China's future economic development, but China will also contribute more and more to the growth of world trade.

"The rise of exports to China vigorously drives the economic growth of some countries," Xiaoji noted.

Meanwhile, India has also benefited from the forces of globalization. "One obvious symptom of the gains from globalization is India's foreign exchange reserves," noted Dr Omkar Goswami, Chairman of CERG Advisory Private Limited in New Delhi. Reserves had risen from just $4.7 billion in 1991 to $135 billion in 2004.

Another benefit has been the emergence of an improved corporate private sector. "Greater domestic and international competition coupled with lower tariffs and the virtual elimination of all quantitative restrictions have required Indian companies, especially those in manufacturing, to focus on efficiency," Goswami said.

Looking into the future, Xiaoji believed that China will play a balancing role between inter-regional trade and it will become the main source of FDI outflow given its current $600 billion in foreign reserves.

"I believe China will become a much more active investor," Xiaoji said.

In 2004, FDI actually absorbed by China stood at $60.6 billion, a 13.3 percent rise over the previous year, while outward investment remained small, but growing. In 2003, the stock of China's outward investment to Asia was estimated at $26.5 billion, representing 80 percent of total outward investment.

Xiaoji noted that China is adopting policies to encourage competent Chinese enterprises to "going global." These will become a new driving force for global cross-border investment activities, making contributions to the economic development of China and the world, he said.

On shining example of this latest trend has been the acquisition by the Chinese computer giant Lenovo of IBM's desktop PC unit.

Topics: Lee Kuan Yew
© 2005 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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