A new World Bank report released Monday in Singapore says that an economic renaissance is unfolding in East Asia.
The report, "An East Asian Renaissance: Ideas for Growth", says that if current growth trends prevail, by 2030 East Asia will be as large in terms of the world economy as it was in 1820, around the time that it began a long decline in global importance.
Since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the growth record of the emerging economies of East Asia has been remarkable. Growth domestic product has almost doubled, growing by over nine percent per year to reach 4 trillion U.S. dollars in current dollar terms by 2005, according to the report.
The report admits that the economic success that many countries in East Asia have experienced is now creating the region's next wave of challenges on the home front burgeoning mega-cities, inequality, corruption, and environmental degradation.
It's the region's ever-growing cities that are feeling the pressure most of all.
"East Asia is witnessing the largest rural-to-urban shift of population in history," says Indermit Gill, World Bank Economic Adviser and co-author. "Two million new urban dwellers are expected in East Asian cities every month for the next 20 years. "
The report says almost 600 million East Asians are still trying to live on less than two U.S. dollars per day. Inequality in the region has risen, not just in income levels but in schooling attainment and access to basic services. Poorer regions and rural areas are falling further behind their urban counterparts and ethnic minorities are not participating in growth.
Despite emerging issues, the report sees the region's future in a very positive light.
"If East Asian policymakers succeed in meeting this next wave of challenges, within a generation they can eliminate poverty and lead their countries into the ranks of prosperous, developed nations of the world," the report says.