As the second-largest economy in the world, China drives economic trends around the world, and even more so in the region. Even though China’s economy is slowing, growth is still strong, forecast around 7 percent annually for the next three years. With its large population and rapid growth, India is also a driver of overall trends in the region. Asia is projected to be home to more than half the world’s population by 2050, and Wisconsin now has trade representation in 11 Asian markets.

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Trade between Wisconsin and China has grown substantially over the last decade, and today China is the state’s largest trading partner outside of North America. Societal changes in China will further improve export opportunities for Wisconsin companies. These trends include wider use of machines and technology in manufacturing, improvement of environmental contamination, and growth in low-tech health interventions. The rise of the middle class and urbanization throughout China make it a high-growth market where Wisconsin companies can build on relationships already established. China’s changes drive demand for products and technology. Meanwhile, Wisconsin businesses could also benefit from offshore service contracts for legal, financial and health care work.


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Japan remains the world’s third-largest economy, after the U.S. and China. Japan is the second-largest foreign investor in the U.S., with more than $257 billion invested. Japan’s large government debt (more than 200 percent of GDP), persistent deflation and an aging and shrinking population are major complications for the economy. A recent strengthening of the yen means American goods and services have never been more affordable for Japanese buyers.


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Since its full implementation on March 15, 2012, the US-Korea free trade agreement has brought gains for both the U.S. and the Korean economies, helping to increase exports of goods and services, promoting greater economic relations in both trade and investment, bolstering small and midsize enterprises, deregulating the market and protecting intellectual property rights. Geographically located at the center of air and maritime transportation networks, South Korea has been enjoying economic growth as the 13th-largest economy in the world. As South Korea moves toward technology-intensive and capital-intensive industries and services, it will be an excellent market for Wisconsin exporters with state-of-the-art technologies and innovative products and services.


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Singapore is a highly developed and successful free-market economy. It boasts a per capita GDP higher than that of most developed countries, and is remarkably open and corruption-free. Unemployment is very low. The economy contracted 0.6 percent in 2009 as a result of the global financial crisis, but has continued to grow since 2010. Singapore has attracted major investments in pharmaceuticals and medical technology production, and will continue efforts to strengthen its position as Southeast Asia’s leading financial and high-tech hub. The government is attempting to restructure Singapore’s economy by weaning its dependence on foreign labor, addressing weak productivity, and increasing Singaporean wages.


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India is the ninth-largest economy in the world, and one of the fastest-growing. In 2014, its GDP grew by 7.5 percent. Two-thirds percent of India’s population is below 35 years of age, and of those, 160 million are in the middle and upper income classes, with high disposable income. India is the largest importer of weapons and equipment in the world, and is the leading export market for defense equipment made in the U.S. India presents opportunities across many industries, including those listed below.


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Taiwan has transformed itself from a recipient of U.S. aid in the 1950s and early 1960s to an aid donor and major foreign investor. Manufacturing is an important part of Taiwan’s economy, and the island runs a substantial trade surplus. Its foreign reserves are the world’s fifth-largest, behind those of China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland. In 2006, China overtook the U.S. to become Taiwan’s second-largest source of imports after Japan. Traditional labor-intensive industries are steadily being moved offshore and replaced with more capital- and technology-intensive industries, making Taiwan a good market for innovative and high-tech products.


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The views or opinions expressed here are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect those of WEDC. WEDC is not responsible for the contents nor does WEDC guarantee the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or reliability of this information.