NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 7, 2009

In the midst of a downturn, it's easy to lose perspective.  It feels at the moment like America's position in the world is slipping and Asia is taking our place.  On a longer view, that turns out to be only half-right: Asia is rising, but America is not falling, says the Heritage Foundation.

With sound policies, the United States will be by far the world's most important economy for a long time.  One of those sound policies is strengthening our ties with Asia, says Heritage:

  • Asia has dynamism going for it, with the world's fastest-growing countries heavily concentrated there.
  • As the global leader, the United States should ensure it continues to play a helpful and crucial role in that growth and that we benefit from it.
  • The first steps are to ratify the free trade agreement with South Korea and move forward with the Transpacific Partnership.

It bears noting that the true counterpart to Asia's rise is not America's decline, but Europe's, says Heritage:

  • A big economic role for government has served Europe very poorly and the European Union can be seen as an attempt to keep Europe relevant despite bad policy.
  • Our economic relations across the Pacific are an important element of our foreign policy, but getting things right on the home front still comes first.
  • For those who care about American leadership, that means less government intrusion in the economy, not more.

"Asia" is a region with a population of over 4 billion, compared to America's 300 million. With the shares of the global economy about the same, the average person in the United States is much, much richer than the average person in Asia, says Heritage.

Source: Derek Scissors, "World GDP:  A Story of American Leadership and Asian Partnerships," Heritage Foundation, November 25, 2009.

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