Promoting Learning and Industrial Upgrading in ASEAN Countries

Willem Thorbecke, Mario Lamberte, Ginalyn Komoto
JEL codes: 
ADBI Working Paper Series

This paper traces the effects of the “East Asian Miracle,” the 1997–1998 Asian Crisis, the recovery, and the 2008–2009 global financial crisis on ASEAN countries. It also considers how ASEAN countries can sustain growth by leveraging production networks to facilitate technology transfer. To achieve this, ASEAN countries need to maintain an environment friendly to foreign investment by resisting corruption, providing consistent and coherent enforcement of laws and regulations at all governmental levels, and maintaining stable macroeconomic fundamentals. This paper then emphasizes that ASEAN countries should focus on climbing the value chain by investing in human capital. They can do this by providing children with adequate nutrition, healthcare, and primary education, providing high school students with a high quality education in science and math, and providing university students with scientific and engineering training. The educational system should also be careful to provide students with marketable skills that businesses need. Finally, the paper argues that ASEAN should promote regional financial integration to help channel savings to high-yielding investments in the region.