U.S. Trade Policy Toward the New NICs of Southeast Asia

As export and economic growth in Korea and Taiwan has slowed since 1988, it has increased dramatically in several countries of Southeast Asia. Thailand, for one, is chalking up a second year of eleven percent real GDP growth in 1989 to become the fastest-growing economy in the world. Malaysia and even the Philippines are not far behind, with growth predicted to reach the six to eight percent range for the second or third year in a row. Even Indonesia’s growth is rising above five percent for the first time since the oil price slump of the early 1980s. Manufactures now account for over half, in some cases well over half, of merchandise exports in all four of these ASEAN countries. This has caused them to be referred to by the international business press, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, as the next newly industrializing countries [“NICs”] – the next Koreas and Taiwans, only bigger (with the exception of Malaysia).