Economic reforms pushed by Southern entrepreneurs have fueled an economy that's grown nearly as fast as China's over the last decade. Manufacturing jobs are plentiful, and the national poverty rate has plummeted from 57 percent in 1993 to about 18 percent today.A few weeks back Enda led me to this post from a Malaysian concerned about Indonesia's progress. It's was sad to realize that our advancement is seen with worry by others. I thought, "why couldn't we grow together?"
[Vietnam] could become Southeast Asia's most important industrial economy in the coming decades, with the potential to surpass Thailand. This year alone, Vietnam is on track for $7 billion in foreign direct investment, roughly the same as giant India."
Often compared to China, Vietnam is actually more similar to Taiwan circa 1970, an economy then burgeoning with small and medium enterprises ready to burst onto the global scene.
And now I'm in his shoes. As a fellow south-east Asian, I thought I should be proud of Vietnam's achievement, but I'm getting shivers instead. For example, I'm afraid that investments would keep going to Vietnam instead of Indonesia.
Apparently, developing countries' economic progress is also seen with shivers by free-trade protagonists of the developed world. Guardian's senior economics commentator, William Keegan, told the dilemma of "someone who had been a senior international official promoting free trade and open markets for many years." This person "had met an old friend whose previously successful US furniture business had collapsed in the face of the kind of international competition that he (the former official) had been busily promoting."
My dad once told me of a "negative" character common to the old people from our village that should be avoided: "happy to see others miserable, miserable to see others happy." But now it seems that such character is the dominant mindset.
I don't know whether I should be sad, happy, or just embrace this with a straight face.
Pic source: Newsweek.