ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Few Universal Solutions

Few Universal Solutions Biswajit Dhar Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific, United Nations, New York,
IN the past few years, the Asia-Pacific region has been the focal point of attention due to the remarkable growth performance of the newly industrialising countries even as the industrialised world was struggling to find a way out of the persevering recession. The economic dynamism exhibited by the former has prompted many to comment that the Asia-Pacific region would emerge as the new growth centre of the global economy. This view has found support in more recent years as the growth syndrome of the NICs has had a spread effect with the countries of south-east Asia showing similar economic performance. Coexisting with these dynamic countries is another set of countries in the region that arc among the poorest in the world and for whom stepping up of economic growth has become a daunting task. Yet another dimension of Asia is provided by the central Asian republics which are in the midst of unparalleled economic decline. These contrasting faces of Asia are extensively documented by the ESCAP in its annual Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific. The latest survey, apart from providing a useful round-up of the Asia-Pacific economies, analyses in depth two of the more vexed issues of present times, viz, financial sector reforms and social security. What makes the Survey distinct from the other attempts made by intergovernmental organisations while addressing similar issues is its emphasis on the analytical content rather than on simple-minded prescriptions. By bringing forth the degree of variation in countries as regard these issues, the Survey gives an important message that there are no quick-fix solutions to such intricate problems as financial sector reforms. The macro-economic overview of the region has been provided by considering a mi x of analytical and subregional categories of countries. Thus, while the least developed countries (LDCs) and the developed countries have been treated separately, the remaining countnes have been classified according to the sub-regions to which they belong A point worth considering here is whether strict analytical categories would have been better suited for the purpose than the mix of categories stated above. This could have been done in the Survey without making any significant reclassification of the countries since the sub-regions are broadly found to conform to analytical categories. Thus, south Asia comprises essentially the low income countries, south-east Asia of the middle income countries and the central Asian republics of the economies in transition. Countries of the sub-regions of east Asia and the Pacific can be reclassified into their appropriate analytical groups.

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