The Asia Foundation

The Asia Foundation

Improving Lives
Expanding Opportunities

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Economic Development

For 60 years, The Asia Foundation has supported Asian initiatives to foster inclusive economic growth and broaden economic opportunities. The Foundation designs and implements economic programs in three core areas:

  • Business Environments for Private Sector Growth
  • Entrepreneurship Development
  • Regional Economic Cooperation

Our program initiatives range from the local to the regional levels and work to increase economic opportunities and expand investment and trade; strengthen partnerships among governments, private enterprise, and civil society to promote broad-based, environmentally sustainable growth; and improve the responsiveness of public authorities to demand for a more supportive business environment, including for women entrepreneurs. Read Program Overview.

Recent Projects

Bringing Critical Reforms to Bangladesh's Leather Sector

Under its partnership with the Australian Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Foundation has played a catalyzing role in the relocation of the leather tanning industry from central Dhaka—where it was heavily polluting the Buriganga River—to a new, environmentally-compliant industrial estate outside the city. Read more in our blog or watch a video about the project.

Supporting Women Entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia

As part of the US-APEC Technical Assistance to Advance Regional Integration program, the Foundation is working with Nathan Associates on research for support and capacity-building of women entrepreneurs in APEC’s Southeast Asian economies. In 2013, TAF published the study Access to Trade and Growth of Women’s SMEs in APEC Developing Economies together with APEC.

Activating NTM Desks in South Asia to Increase Trade

Non-tariff measures (NTMs) and non-tariff barriers (NTBs) pose significant constraints to greater inter-regional trade within South Asia. Given the difficulty of identifying them due to their complexity, the Foundation worked with the SAARC Trade Promotion Network and local partners to establish mechanisms for regular reporting of NTMs and NTBs. In 2013 and 2014, three NTM desks were set up in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. Read more about our regional economic cooperation programs here.

Supporting South Asian Women Entrepreneurs through the SAWES Program

With support from the U.S. Department of State, the Foundation has been implementing the South Asia Women's Entrepreneurship Symposium (SAWES) program in South Asian countries, namely Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and India. Key past activities include regional exposure tours for women entrepreneurs, resulting in more effective cross-border networking and the creation of new business ventures and partnerships. The objectives of SAWES are to foster a South Asian regional network of women business associations and leaders to advance policies and share information. You can read more about the project here.

Economic Development Publications

Middle-Income Trap: Economic Myth, Political Reality

Regional Economic Cooperation Forum: Making AEC Work for SMEs Subnational Governments and Business in Myanmar
Innovations in Strengthening Local Economic Governance in Asia Aiding Institutional Reform in Developing Countries: Lessons from the Philippines on what works, what doesn't and why Access to Trade and Growth of Women's SMEs in APEC Developing Economies
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