Table of Contents

  • The steady economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region has been an anchor of stability for the sluggish global economy in recent years. This dynamism has made it possible for many countries of the region to make major inroads against extreme poverty. Advances in Asia and the Pacific have also generated important lessons for countries in other regions striving to put in place smart policies and best practices for building lives of prosperity, safety and dignity for all.

  • The developing economies of the Asian and Pacific region currently account for about a third of the world’s output, and they are quickly reaching an economic status on par with that of the combined share of developed economies in North America and Europe. The convergence in output is likely to continue in coming years despite a narrowing growth differential between developing Asia-Pacific economies and the developed global economies. At the current pace, the region’s share in the global economy is expected to exceed one half by 2050, when it regains the position it had held prior to the Industrial Revolution. Not surprisingly therefore what Asia and the Pacific does now influences the rest of the world more than in the past when the region was primarily affected by external developments.

  • Economic growth in Asia-Pacific economies, although steady, is modest compared with its recent historical trend amid prolonged weak external demand and its ramifications, such as subdued investment and rising trade protectionism. While robust economic growth is not a sufficient condition for achieving broader development goals, the lack of it could undermine efforts to reduce poverty and expand the availability of decent jobs. At the same time, decades of rapid economic growth, facilitated by globalization and technological advances, came at a cost – rising inequality and environmental degradation. Addressing such economic, social and environment challenges in a coherent and decisive manner will be critical for improving the region’s future prospects.

  • The Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific is a flagship publication of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

  • Analyses in the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2017 are based on data and information available up to the end of March 2017.

  • The Asia-Pacific region’s high and steady economic growth has served as an anchor of stability in recent years for the struggling global economy. In considering its high openness to trade, the region’s relative resilience to weak external demand may come as a surprise. One explanation is the increased size of domestic and regional demand. The region’s developing economies now account for a third of the world’s output, only slightly less than the combined share of the developed economies in North America and Europe. If the region continues to outpace global economic growth at the current pace, it would account for more than half of global output by 2050. The region’s income level would converge towards the global average and make the region home to the majority of the global middle class. The Asia-Pacific region’s prominence is also likely to increase in such areas as global trade, finance, technology and education such that what the region does will affect the rest of the world compared with the past when the region was primarily affected by external developments.

  • The Asia-Pacific region is vast and diverse. The region is home to some of the world’s largest economies, such as China, India, Indonesia, Japan and the Russian Federation. Changes in economic conditions and direction of economic policies in these countries have notable implications for other regional peers and beyond. At the same time, the region is home to several small countries, the population size of which is less than 1 million, that are dependent on and influenced by other larger economies in the region.

  • Development trajectories of countries within the Asia-Pacific region have varied significantly over time. While some countries have made tremendous advancements in terms of economic and social indicators, others have not been quite as successful. Historical and cultural differences may explain part of the different development experiences of countries in the region. Yet, there is no doubt that the quality of governance and the effectiveness of public institutions are critical factors that contribute to the process of development.