Asia on the rise

14 October 2014

Source: Irish Times (Ireland)
Source type: Newspaper
Published on: 06 Oct 2010

IN A rapidly changing world different regions need to know one another better for mutual advantage and to encourage better global responses to challenges they all face. Such is the rationale for the eighth biennial Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) which concluded yesterday in Brussels. These encounters do not produce breakthroughs but they can push forward positions on common problems, as this one usefully did.


Improving global economic governance, achieving sustainable development, combating global warming and meeting aid targets figured in their conclusions. They want to co-operate on restoring market confidence and boosting economic recovery. Global and regional hotspots, including North Korea, disputed islands in the East China Sea, Iran, the Middle East, Somali piracy and Burma were touched on.

These are global challenges, demanding action from political leaders. This meeting between EU and Asian states is intended to be more consultative than decisive, doing more to facilitate action elsewhere, including at the forthcoming G20 summit, in climate change negotiations and in the Doha trade talks. But it did bring together states (including now Russia, Australia and New Zealand) with an estimated 58 per cent share of the world's gross domestic product (GDP) and 60 per cent of its trade. Asia's extraordinarily rapid growth is illustrated by the fact that its share of global GDP grew from 18 to 34 per cent between 1990 and 2009. Its stock markets now account for 34 per cent of market capitalisation – compared with 33 per cent for the US and 27 per cent for Europe. And Asian states have demonstrated most resilience to the financial crisis.

Facts like these explain why the tone of yesterday's ASEM statement on more effective global economic governance was sharper than previously. Issues like competitive currency values, reform of the International Monetary Fund's representation to take account of emerging economic powers, trade protectionism and how and when to exit from national and regional stimulus programmes to counter the global economic crisis are under intense negotiation at global level.

Regional groupings like the EU and Asean, along with its rapidly developing supplementary Asian configurations, have a crucial role to play in them, along with the United States and other world regions. It is good to see the long work that has gone into developing the EU's relations with Asian states bearing fruit in a more politically engaged, candid and equal inter-regional dialogue.