LONDON – US President Barack Obama caught the imagination of the world when he talked recently of a new “Sputnik moment.” He outlined a bold plan for improving education, infrastructure, and technology, and vividly compared the resolve required to put a man on the moon to the determination needed to restore growth to the US economy.
Obama is right to say that the West faces not only great challenges, but also great opportunities. In the last decade, the global economy was transformed by one billion Asian workers entering the ranks of industrial producers. In 2011, for the first time in two centuries, Europe and America face being out-produced, out-exported, and out-invested by China and the rest of the world.
Yet Asia’s growth also gives the West unprecedented economic hope. In this decade, the world will be transformed yet again by the rise of the Asian consumer. By 2020, Asia’s domestic markets will be twice the size of America’s. The world’s middle class will have swelled from one billion consumers to three billion.
The opportunities for growth in Europe and the US from this additional global demand are enormous. The countries and companies that will flourish in Asia’s new markets will be those that can provide the technology-driven, custom-built, high value-added goods and services needed to serve Asia’s two billion consumers.