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South Asia: A development strategy for the information age

Hamid, Naved (2006): South Asia: A development strategy for the information age. Published in: ADB Report on the South Asia Department Economists’ Annual Conference 2006 (December 2007): 07-16.

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Over the last 50 years, Asia has been the most successful region in the world in terms of rapid economic development. The success of Asia is largely because of the adoption of the (Manufactured) Export-Oriented Growth Strategy or (M)EOGS by one group of countries after another. (M)EOGS, modeled on Japan’s postwar strategy, was successfully followed by the four “Asian tigers” (Hong Kong, China; Singapore; Republic of Korea; and Taipei, China). It was subsequently, adopted by a number of Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand), followed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and, more recently, by Viet Nam. The question is: Will this process continue to extend to other countries in Asia, with South Asian countries ultimately becoming the manufacturing export power houses of the future? The answer to the first part of the question is probably yes, and to the second part, probably no—and therefore the need for an alternate strategy. This paper looks at some features of (M)EOGS in East/Southeast Asia, its limitations in the case of South Asia, and then present an alternative development strategy which may be more appropriate for South Asia.

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