Economic Daily News: Four Tigers have graduated, not disbanded
Central News Agency
2014-02-21 10:52 AM
National Development Minister Kuan Chung-ming hit his mark with the assertion that the four Asian Tigers no longer exist, drawing widespread discussion over the state of Taiwan's economy. While Taiwan runs in place, Singapore's per capita income has grown to double Taiwan's, South Korea is looking to challenge Japan's status as one of Asia's major economies, and Hong Kong is flying high on the back of China, Kuan said. The remarks were meant as a warning for the Taiwanese to see their own situation for what it is, lest they be left behind because of poor economic strategies. Kuan's concerns are not unwarranted, but a clearer explanation of the issue is needed. The term "Four Asian Tigers" (or four Asian dragons in Chinese) first appeared in the late 1970s and was widely used in the 1980s and 1990s. It has fallen out of use in recent years, however, because the four members in the club have grown from developing economies into rich countries. Their former positions have been replaced by the "Tiger Cub Economies" of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. While the World Bank now lists Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea as "high-income economies," the International Monetary Fund classifies them as "advanced economies." All four have remained front-rank in international evaluations. Whether the Asian Tigers club still exists or not, it's clear that the four original members have graduated, leaving vacancies filled by some other emerging economies. It is meanwhile not appropriate to use U.S. dollar-denominated per capita income to compare the standards of living of different countries. Instead, the purchasing power parity (PPP) is a more widely used standard because it helps avoid misleading comparisons due to exchange rates. Based on PPP, Taiwan's GDP per capita is ranked third of the former tigers -- ahead of South Korea -- and Singapore's remains only 50 percent higher than Taiwan's. Despite continuing sluggish economic activity, Taiwan has been a rich economy for some time. As long as the country works harder, it will be able to catch up with the other three very soon. (Editorial abstract -- Feb. 21, 2014) (By Y.F. Low)
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