Second, East Asia's import competing industries are becoming so powerful that they leave little room for foreign products. Small niches of specialty and luxury goods, entertainment and tourist and hospitality industries may be the only exceptions.
Protected by surpluses and reserves
Third, the region has developed its own highly sophisticated financial centers with a full range of retail, wholesale and investment services.
Fourth, the most recent events show that the new institutions of development financing will be supporting a wide array of region's industries – civil engineering, cement, steel, water supplies, transportation, telecommunications and healthcare – in gigantic, trillion-dollar, infrastructure projects over the coming years. In fact, it seems that this whole building program has been set up as a way of channeling some of East Asia's excess savings into the much-needed modernization of regional economies.
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Fifth, given East Asia's dominant position in global trade, its large external surpluses and enormous foreign currency reserves, it is absurd to keep harping on the area's alleged vulnerabilities to expected interest rate increases in the United States. Problems of rising dollar interest rates could occur only in economies having to import foreign capital to finance current account deficits. Indonesia is the only country in the region that might have such a difficulty. But the odds of financing problems actually happening are rather small: With sound economic policies, political stability and investment-friendly regulations, Jakarta can count on direct and portfolio capital inflows from a huge pool of region's excess savings.
Yes, East Asia can take care of its own – and then some.
Being the largest net creditor in the world economy, East Asia is increasingly projecting its economic and financial importance on a global scale. Just think of the waves made by the 21 Asian countries when they signed up for the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on October 24, 2014. Ambiguities, hand wringing and political soul searching ensued in the rest of the world. In the end, considerations of national interest prevailed. But it took the U.K. until early March of this year to decide to join this Asian project, prompting other applicants to bring the AIIB membership to more than 40 counties.
IMF's rare delight
As governments were rushing to meet the March 31 application deadline, the IMF's Managing Director Christine Lagarde came in with a statement that she would be "delighted" to cooperate with the AIIB, because there was a "massive" room for the two organizations to cooperate on infrastructure financing.