Positively Asia

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: CHHG CHOON HIONG

This final of seven in The Straits Times’ Future Economy roundtable series sees much opportunity for Asia amid the risks

As the world goes through a period of unprecedented transformation, Asia is bang in the middle. Until a decade ago, it was taken for granted that the Asian century was upon us and that the future was in this region. But some mega-trends are complicating this narrative. Global trade and productivity are slowing, if not reversing. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or the New Machine Age, is advancing rapidly, with profound effects on the way we work and live, and communicate and consume. It is now possible to consider that people in some countries may routinely live past the age of 100, which has its own implications.

Meanwhile, Asia is in the middle of an unprecedented arms race that diverts funds from more productive use, even as drone technology and robotics increase the risk of conflict because human lives need not be put directly in harm's way. And regional integration is slowing. Asean itself is straining at the seams.

What does the future portend for Asia? Well, handled right, there is much room for optimism, says a panel of experts.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 21, 2016, with the headline 'Positively Asia'. Print Edition | Subscribe