The Asia Foundation Launches New Book “Innovations in Strengthening Local Economic Governance in Asia”

San Francisco, May 19, 2011 — Book co-author and chief economist to bring Foundation’s signature approach to Afghanistan in July

Asia is at a crossroads. In an era of economic and political uncertainty, citizens and entrepreneurs are facing severe challenges to prosperity. In an effort to strengthen local economies and share best practices in the region, The Asia Foundation, a non-governmental international development organization working across 18 Asian countries, today announced the release of a new book on economic reform and development, “Innovations in Strengthening Local Economic Governance in Asia.”

The book is slated for release at a May 25 launch event in Washington, D.C. with a series of preview events this week in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Designed as a timely resource for policymakers and development professionals, The Asia Foundation’s latest book summarizes the organization’s cutting-edge Economic Reform & Development programs. The Foundation is recognized in the international community for using empirical data as a basis for economic reform and development – exemplified in its signature Economic Governance Index (EGI), a tool used to measure the quality of the business environment in different Asian countries in encouraging private sector growth. Case studies from the mid-1990s to the present in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam are featured.

The book presents on-the-ground insights from The Asia Foundation’s development experts in the U.S. and Asia and reflects the organization’s multi-disciplinary approach, deep local knowledge, and technical expertise.  In pioneering effective change across Asia, the organization closely collaborates with a diverse group of local partners—national and local governments, Chambers of Commerce and other business associations, civil society groups, and non-governmental organizations.

“Many local economies across Asia are failing to live up to their potential as engines of growth,” notes the book’s co-author, Dr. V. Bruce J. Tolentino, Chief Economist and Director of Economic Reform and Development Programs at The Asia Foundation. ”There is no doubt that Asia experienced less pain—relative to most Western economies—during the recent global financial crisis; however, a strong need to accelerate and sustain broad-based economic growth persists. While reforms and innovation can trigger progress, it is ultimately effective governance and strong institutional capacity that will sustain growth.”

Signaling The Asia Foundation’s deep commitment to strengthening local economic governance across the diverse regions of Asia, Dr. Tolentino will bring his economic expertise to Afghanistan on a permanent basis later this year. Starting July 2011, he will serve as the new country representative of the Foundation’s office in Kabul. The Foundation has worked in Afghanistan since 1954. Assisting the nation in its long-term development goals, the organization will continue to work with Afghan partners to formulate and implement Afghan solutions to the country’s challenges.

Dr. Tolentino continues, “Good economic governance is crucial for Afghanistan. It will enable the country to weather the crises and challenges it now faces, emerging into a future that promises maximum, long-term health of the Afghan economy and people.” Listen to Dr. Tolentino speak on the causes of economic inequality in Asia here.

For additional in-depth analyses from the book’s authors, please visit our In Asia blog.

Read more about the Foundation’s Economic Reform & Development programs and download excerpts from the book here. For media inquiries, please visit the Press Room.

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