It was partially interesting to see that earlier in the year Barack Obama made his first overseas visit, after his inauguration, to South East Asia.
This is always a very important trip as it signifies the future intentions or worries of the West.
He attended the 21st ASEAN Summit. The ASEAN is a geo-political and economic organization of ten countries located in Southeast Asia. However for me it was one of the main talking points of this summit that grabbed my attention, particularly when it coincided with Obama’s visit.
They were in talks about a new free trade bloc, similar to that of the EU or NAFTA, to be called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (PCEP), that will include the 10 members of ASEAN, the ASEAN +3 ( China, Japan, South Korea ) as well as India, Australia and New Zealand
This trade zone would lead to a market with a combined population of over 3bn people, nearly half the world’s population, and a combined GDP of nearly $20 trillion, just below a third of that of the worlds.
This will be a future new hub of power in the world
The trip definitely signifies the USA’s belief that this region of the world is the ‘Next-2-Blow’ and also shows the USA’s fear of it.
China has shown that they believe this trip by Obama is aimed to increase the influence of the USA in that region to contain the growth of China
Or another reason Obama is showing interest is that Thailand has recently been found to have an enormous un-tapped oil supply…. Hmmm.
Regardless it seems that this year will see the USA try to maintain its dominance in the face of the rising powers in the Far-East. But what are the implications?
As the Far-East starts to grow in influence politically and financially over the West will this also mean the same is to be said culturally…? Probably.
Their disposable income will increase which undoubtedly makes them a desirable market for companies. So either the universal messages of large western firms will begin to be made more appealing to the Far-East. Or new huge firms will emerge from the Far-East and expand into the West bringing with them cultural images and values.
This is still very early on, but it is a very significant moment. We might be seeing new cultural influence on our products, music and films sooner then we think.