Thriving in the Shadow of Giants
Southeast Asia has achieved impressive economic performance over the years, which positions it well for future economic and social progress. The two largest economies in the world—the United States and China—have recognized the enormous economic and strategic potential of Southeast Asia and have made the region a core element in their regional and global plans. At the same time, Southeast Asia is confronting many challenges that could derail its continued rapid economic and institutional development. Some of these challenges emanate from outside the region, such as the region’s vulnerability to global economic instability, while other challenges come from within. Political, ethnic, and communal tensions threaten stability and development in some countries. This chapter first examines the factors behind Southeast Asia’s long-term economic progress and the development of a regional institutional structure that has helped make this progress resilient over several decades. It then examines the economic outlook for the region and assesses the important risks that could slow—or even disrupt—its continued rapid and resilient growth.
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