where about half of the exports are in agriculture, low commodity prices and high interest rates have affected their industrialization program. This, in turn, may well affect political stability—perhaps the weak spot in the region. The problem is aggravated by South Korea’s and Japan’s tight price protection of agricultural products and bilateral deals, as well as price wars between the EEC and the United States. The result of these difficulties is a serious trade imbalance in the Philippines.
In the sociopolitical sphere—despite steady improvements—uncertainties remain in some ASEAN nations. In the Philippines, large land areas and cultural privilege are still the preserve of a small proportion of the population. Where economic, educational, and cultural privilege is held by a minority, economic flexibility and mobility are impeded, and the emerging intellectual proletariat tends to be radicalized. In Indonesia, geographic fragmentation has created problems in organization and education. These problems, combined with the desire for rapid national development, tend to give rise to “strong-hand” military-type governments. To what extent these political characteristics will affect stability and economic success remains unknown.
Finally, ASEAN nations—perhaps with the exception of Singapore—are not yet at the stage where their science can make significant original contributions to indigenous technology. Attempts to develop “appropriate” technologies by local scientists have been problematic. At best, such developments are reverse engineering of earlier technologies; often they are difficult to time in view of rapid alternative developments and tend to prolong uncompetitiveness. The problem of indigenous science and its conversion into technology in small economies is dealt with later in this paper in regard to Australia, where the problem has become more pronounced.
If a rapid rise in living standards from a low level is the prime objective of globalization of industries, the Asian NICs demonstrate the effectiveness of globalization. These four countries have led in international GDP growth rates and have contributed about half of all manufacturing exports from the Third World (Reynolds, 1985). Although politicians and economists blamed many of the shortcomings of Third World industrialization on the advanced nations, particularly their multinational corporations (MNCs), it was by interaction with these corporations through direct foreign investment, technology transfer, importation of capital goods, joint ventures, and competition in the open market that the four Asian NICs have advanced rapidly. Some of the factors contributing to their rise will be discussed here, referring to South Korea only for simplicity’s sake, since it is typical, although not wholly representative, of the group.