Economy and resources
Asian business is characterized by major differences. Several countries, such as China, India, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore and also petroleum-rich countries in the Middle East are among the richest and most developed in the continent.
According to the International Monetary Fund (2012), Asia has four of the world’s ten richest countries in terms of GDP : China (2), India (3), Japan (4) and Russia (6). Asia also has four of the world’s ten richest countries in terms of GDP per capita: Qatar (1), Singapore (3), Brunei (5) and Hong Kong (6).
In sharp contrast are several countries belonging to the world’s poorest: The poorest countries in Asia measured in GDP are: Bhutan (156 out of 182 countries), East Timor (144), Kyrgyzstan (137), Mongolia (133), Laos (126)). The poorest countries in Asia in terms of GDP per capita are: Afghanistan (161 out of 180), Nepal (160), East Timor (155), Bangladesh (151) and Tajikistan (143).
In Asia, twice as many are extremely poor as in the rest of the world. See AbbreviationFinder.org for further information. The number of poor people has increased in recent years due to population increase, but the percentage has decreased. Today, two-thirds of the world’s poor still live in Asia.
Agriculture is the main industry for most Asians, especially in China and South and Southeast Asia. The operating methods are often old-fashioned. In many places, especially in Southeast Asia, rice is the most important agricultural product, and Asia accounts for more than 90 percent of the world’s rice production. Most wheat is grown in the Middle East, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Siberia.
Nearly four-fifths of world tea production takes place in Asia. 90 percent of all rubber (raw natural rubber) comes from Asia, especially Indonesia. Other important agricultural products are coconuts, cotton, sugar cane, tobacco, soybeans, fruits and vegetables. Because of the land area, it is mostly produced in China and India.
Animal husbandry plays a modest role in most places, but there is large breeding of horses, sheep and goats especially in Western and Central Asia where there are nomadic cultures based on livestock.
Most of the conifer production takes place in Russia, while it is the largest production of hardwood, such as teak, in South and Southeast Asia. Drastic forest cutting is a major problem in many Asian countries. Locally, bamboo has great significance.
Opium is an important source of revenue in Central and Southeast Asia, especially in Afghanistan, although production is banned everywhere.
The largest fishing nations are Japan (the world’s second largest), Indonesia, China and Thailand.
Asia has large mineral deposits and almost all important minerals. About 60 percent of the world’s oil and natural gas reserves are in Asia. The largest deposits are found in the Persian Gulf, where Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Kuwait are major producers, as well as in Siberia and Indonesia.
There are rich iron ore deposits in Russia, China and India, and these countries also have some of the world’s largest deposits of manganese. Malaysia is the world’s largest producer of tin. There are rich deposits of chromium and nickel in Russia and of tungsten in China.
|Country||Inflation (percent)||Currency||External debt (USD million)|
|Afghanistan||2.3 (2019)||afghani||2 552 (2017)|
|Bahrain||2.1 (2018)||Bahraini dinar||–|
|Bangladesh||5.6 (2019)||taka||47 155 (2017)|
|Bhutan||2.7 (2019)||ngultrum||2 636 (2017)|
|Burma||8.8 (2019)||kyat||16 139 (2017)|
|Philippines||2.5 (2019)||Philippine peso||73 080 (2017)|
|United Arab Emirates||-1.9 (2019)||UAE dirham||–|
|India||7.7 (2019)||rupee||513 209 (2017)|
|Indonesia||3.0 (2019)||rupiah||354 352 (2017)|
|Iraq||0.4 (2018)||Iraqi dinar||–|
|Iran||39.9 (2019)||Iranian rial||6 276 (2017)|
|Yemen||8.1 (2014)||Yemeni rial||7 186 (2017)|
|Jordan||0.8 (2019)||Jordanian dinar||30,036 (2017)|
|Cambodia||2.5 (2018)||riel; even US dollars are often used||11 898 (2017)|
|Kazakhstan||5.2 (2019)||tenge||167 485 (2017)|
|China||2.9 (2019)||yuan||1 710 240 (2017)|
|Kyrgyzstan||1.1 (2019)||Kyrgyz as||8 161 (2017)|
|Kuwait||1.1 (2019)||Kuwaiti dinar||–|
|Laos||3.3 (2019)||ny kip||14 498 (2017)|
|Lebanon||3.0 (2019)||Lebanese pound||73 526 (2017)|
|Maldives||0.2 (2019)||rufiyaa||1 365 (2017)|
|Mongolia||7.3 (2019)||tugrik||28 199 (2017)|
|Nepal||5.6 (2019)||Nepalese rupee||4 963 (2017)|
|North Korea||–||North Korean won||–|
|Oman||0.1 (2019)||Omani rial||–|
|Pakistan||10.6 (2019)||pakistani rupee||84 523 (2017)|
|Qatar||-0.7 (2019)||qatarisk rial||–|
|Saudi Arabia||-2.1 (2019)||riyal||–|
|Singapore||0.6 (2019)||Singaporean dollar||–|
|Sri Lanka||3.5 (2019)||lankesisk rupee||50 142 (2017)|
|South Korea||0.4 (2019)||South Korean won||–|
|Syria||36.7 (2012)||Syrian pound||4 654 (2017)|
|Tajikistan||6.0 (2016)||somoni||5,881 (2017)|
|Thailand||0.7 (2019)||baht||129 765 (2017)|
|Uzbekistan||–||as||17 708 (2017)|
|Vietnam||2.8 (2019)||dong||104 079 (2017)|
|East Timor||2.6 (2018)||US dollars||50 (2017)|
According to Countryaah.com, most countries in South and East Asia have undergone extensive industrialization since the late 1960s, but in several Asian countries, shortages of raw materials, energy and capital hinder industrial development.
Japan has long been the world’s largest industrialized country (after the United States), but has left much of the process industry to low-cost countries such as South Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. The economy in these countries is called the “tiger economies” and they had very rapid economic growth except for a downturn during the transient “Asian crisis” in 1997-98. Since the mid-1990s, China has experienced the world’s fastest industrial growth and has attracted large foreign investment. Since 2000, India has been a major exporter of software and other information technology. There are large shipyards in Japan, China and South Korea, among others.
Many automakers are based in South Korea and Japan, and have sub-divisions in countries such as Taiwan, the Philippines and Malaysia, which have cheaper labor. Large production of cheap goods from toys to high-tech products is also based here. Much of the world’s clothing and footwear production takes place in China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia.
Asia has seven major financial centers; These are located in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Dubai, Shanghai, Bangalore and Mumbai. Other financial centers are growing. Much indicates that the center of the world’s financial activity is moving towards “Chinindia”, a common term for China and India. China had the world’s second largest economy in 2010, when it passed Japan’s.