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Global Economic Power Shift Towards Asia Underway: World Government Summit Dialogues

A global expert in smart transformation today said an inevitable global economic shift towards Asia is underway, while highlighting the importance of learning from the successes of the UAE and Dubai, which have become role models in smart transformation.

Speaking at an insightful session titled ‘Navigating 2020’s Data for a Prosperous 2021’ on Day 2 of the World Government Summit Dialogues, Dr Parag Khanna, Founder and Managing Partner of FutureMap, a data and scenario based strategic advisory firm, said: "Despite the unprecedented challenges the world has witnessed in 2020, Asian economies have recovered far more quickly than others. Asia managed the pandemic with far greater resilience and agility than many countries of the world, confirming that Asia is the new hub of the global economy."

He added that by leveraging smart and innovative technologies to shape an advanced digital infrastructure, the UAE has expanded its knowledge-based economy and established global benchmarks for building a bright future for its people.

Moderated by Saeed Al Gergawi, Head of Dubai Future Academy, the session examined the cross-sector various shifts from 2020, and which have prompted a major transfer of economic power to Asia, whose governments and countries recorded far better outcomes in responding to the pandemic and expediting economic recovery.

Dr Khanna identified three main kinds of governments in Asia based on the new Asian values. "The first is the Technocratic model of government - a hybrid regime that features strong public authority and intersperses digital data and scientific approaches to understand, collect and harness public sentiment to steer national modernization. Boasting a strong emphasis on the rule of law, such countries have low levels of corruption and are meritocratic.

"The second model is Mixed Capitalism - here we see a high share of the government’s role in the economy. Government plays an active role in supporting policy, stimulating the economy when needed, supporting national champion firms, and providing for the SMEs and common citizens, when needed."

He added: "The third system of government is Social Conservatism, which follows an incremental approach to liberalization rather than a free for all, whether in public space or political discourse or in cyber discourse."

He noted that in this social space, it is important to emphasize the empowerment of women, coherent national values and education and the regulation of the public space so that opinions may be voiced but the collective stability is not disturbed.

Dr Khanna noted that a new and robust trend we are witnessing that predated the pandemic and will outlast it is the growing connectivity between West and East Asia.

He said: "I call this the Iron and Silk Road, or the Digital Silk Road or the Green Silk Road. It includes all the new kinds of commerce and exchange – from energy to transportation to finance to infrastructure to services – the movement of people and workers. As we prepare for the post pandemic world we will see the return to migration. One of the things halted in 2020 was the mobility of people, that will come back. We will see a new flight to stability, with people wanting to live in countries that have proven their ability to survive – in terms of healthcare, in terms of their protection of citizens, their ability to manage a lockdown while also keep the economy running."

Dr Khanna noted that cities like Dubai and Shanghai have now elevated themselves on lists of global cities through increasing their ranking in the global flow of goods, services, data, among other metrics. He called on the Arab world to increase the interconnectivity of its markets, facilitate transport and inter-mobility, and support small and medium companies to make them a key priority in the next stage of growth.

Dr Khanna commended Dubai's experience and its success story that have offered valuable lessons through in shaping strong global links while building its credentials as a smart city. He also highlighted the improvement in regional governments following the COVID-19 crisis, in the context of their enhanced reliance on technology in education, work, telemedicine and smart financial solutions.

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