Over the past half-century, most countries in the Indo-Pacific region have experienced unprecedented economic growth and development, and many have reached, or will soon reach, what the Asia Foundation and DFAT refer to as Advanced Middle-Income Country (AMIC) status ($4-20K GNI per cap). The default assumption tends to be, having reached this phase, the development will continue more or less unabated. Yet, the global empirical evidence tells a different story—most AMICs face major problems of stalling growth and instability that slow development and sometimes derail progress altogether. In fact, in the past five decades, few countries have made it through the AMIC phase. The primary reasons appear to be linked to perverse political dynamics that slow reform in two critical domains—economics and governance. In the years ahead, new challenges related to rapidly advancing technology, the changing global economy, climate change, and the rise of China further complicate already difficult development transitions in these countries. The ability of AMICs in the region to navigate the growth and stability challenges ahead will in part determine the economic and security future of the Indo-Pacific. The developed economies in the region, especially Australia, Japan, and Singapore, have an immense economic and security stake in the continued progress of these countries. Yet with aid graduation usually occurring around $4-5K GNI/cap, how can these countries continue to support reform?
In this seminar, William Cole will summarise some of the common challenges facing AMICs in the Indo-Pacific region and present elements of a general framework for assessing emerging constraints and opportunities. He will also offer preliminary thoughts on key reform and how international actors could be helpful.
Dr. Cole has worked at senior levels in The Asia Foundation (TAF) since 1997 and now serves as Senior Advisor for Program Strategy, supporting innovative programs in several areas including economic reform, governance, technology, and geostrategic issues. He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the College of Asia and the Pacific resident at the Coral Bell School researching challenges facing countries in the latter stages of development, what TAF and DFAT refer to as Advanced Middle-Income Countries (AMICs).