Policy Documents

Asia’s Story of Growing Economic Freedom

Razeen Sally –
June 6, 2013

In this policy analysis, Razeen Sally, visiting associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and the director of the European Centre for International Political Economy in Brussels, asserts that, "there are three key policy challenges to expanding economic freedom in Asia today."

  1. The first is to open up financial markets, which remain backward and repressed by command economy controls.
  2. The second is to renew trade and foreign-investment liberalization, which has stalled since the Asian crisis of the late 1990s.
  3. third is to open up energy markets, which, even more than financial markets, are throttled by government interventions.

Increasing Asian consumption of fossil fuels will increase carbon emissions. A far better approach is one based on adaptation to global warming through market-based efficiency measures. Asia’s poorer economies should concentrate on “getting the basics right” for growth. Diverse political systems can grow. But autocracies are badly fitted to deliver reforms for productivity-led growth. Freedom and prosperity bloomed in Asia because government interventions were curtailed and markets were unleashed and allowed to function in relative freedom.  The classical liberal apporach is working in Asia. Should they keep to those principles, they will be a force to be reckoned with economically--and consumers will reap the benefits.