“Made in China” is a phrase we all know well, but American shopping aisles bursting with “Made in China” goods are becoming more and more a thing of the past, especially as the depth and breadth of Asia’s economies develop. The truth is, this is not just a China story anymore— it’s a story of a new Asia bursting with emerging economies, high-tech industry, and a growing middle class.

Consider that the United Nations estimates that as of July 2020, Asia as a whole has a population of more than 4 billion. That amounts to about 60 percent of the world’s current population.

Asia is growing and its enormous population is buying more and more of its own stuff than ever before. It is estimated that “Asian-Pacific (APAC) countries will have seen a growth in their middle-classes by over 500 percent in the 20 years up to 2030.” This increased buying power will be nothing short of transformative, especially compared with 2 percent growth in Europe and a decline of nearly 5 percent in America over the same period.  

Asia’s global output is up 26% from the early 2000s and, according to McKinsey and Company, “Asia is on track to top 50% of global GDP by 2014 and drive 40 percent of world’s consumption.”

This growth isn’t just thanks to China, but small and medium-sized countries throughout the region, as well. Asian business hubs stretch from Singapore to Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Manila. In fact, according to an analysis by The Financial Times, Indonesia is on pace to overtake the world’s sixth-largest economy, Russia, by 2023. 

Not to mention, Asian exports are not reliant on the United States. Moreover, China’s total exports amount to 40% of the world’s consumption. Although exports to the United States fell by more than 8%, they remained about the same from 2018 to 2019. In other words, China was able to compensate for the drop in exports to the US by exporting more to the rest of the world. 

Yes, the region is seeing some political instability in 2020, with protests and crackdowns roiling Hong Kong and other parts of China. But, given the growth that’s happening alongside this, it will take more than that to slow down the Asian expansion.

What’s changing in Asia’s markets?

China is no longer simply making the cheap plastic toys that it may have once been known for. Rather, its products are increasingly high-tech and sophisticated. 

That means two things: The first is that in China, wages are on the rise. The second is that there is a new space globally for low-cost manufacturing that once belonged solely to China. 

Vietnam’s exports are up 96% since 2015, a surge led by the export of low-cost textiles. (It’s worth noting that Vietnam is also home to a global manufacturing base for Samsung.)

In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the “Make in India” initiative with the goal of developing India into a manufacturing hub that is recognizable on the global scene. And it seems to be working, with India’s exports up 22.5% since 2015.   

All of that manufacturing would literally go absolutely nowhere without streamlined logistics, however. “The logistics industry accounts for 15-20% of GDP in Vietnam and is expected to grow up to 12 percent in Indonesia.” In large part, this growth is thanks to both increased investment and streamlined e-commerce. 

Why invest in Asia?

Asia might be set to overcome the West as a center of trade and commerce, but it’s not there yet. And it’s not without challenges. Many countries that are home to emerging markets have also become home to the challenges of emerging countries.

Take infrastructure, as an example. 

Paired with challenging geography, poor roadways can devastate supply chains. But, supply chain challenges like those found in Asia can largely be overcome by technology solutions, such as Route Optimization, Predictive Alerts, AI-based forward and reverse logistics, and smart shipment sorting. Additionally, infrastructure spending is on the rise in Southeast Asia, through the formation of institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Japan Infrastructure Fund.  

Countries like Indonesia have shown that economic growth for smaller, emerging countries is sustainable. Not only is Indonesia rich with natural resources, it is committed to specialized manufacturing including that of machinery, electronics, automotive and auto-parts. The country has slashed its “poverty rate by more than half since 1999, to 9.4% in 2019.” It’s most recent economic plan implemented in 2005 was for 20 years, broken into 5 year increments.

In all, the Asian continent, with its emerging middle class, increased focus on high-tech manufacturing, and participation by lesser-known counties, has long-term growth potential. And, with this momentum already in full swing, the future looks bright for countries across the continent.

That’s what happens when emerging markets “emerge” all the way into fully developed economies.

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