Four Asian Tigers

What does the 'Four Asian Tigers' mean

The four Asian tigers are the high-growth economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. The four Asian tigers have consistently maintained high levels of economic growth since the 1960s, fueled by exports and rapid industrialization, which enabled these economies to join the ranks of the world's richest nations. Hong Kong and Singapore are among the biggest financial centers worldwide, while South Korea and Taiwan are important hubs of global manufacturing in automobile/electronic components and information technology, respectively.

BREAKING DOWN 'Four Asian Tigers'

Also going by the nickname of Asian dragons, common characteristics of the four Asian tigers include a focus on exports, an educated populace and high savings rates. The economies of the four tigers have proved to be resilient enough to withstand local crises, such as the Asian financial crisis of 1997, as well as global shocks such as the credit crunch of 2008. The IMF includes the four Asian tigers in its category of 35 advanced economies.

South Korea

Since declaring independence from Japan in 1945, South Korea’s continuous push toward investment in its infrastructure and development of a high-tech industrial segment has fueled rapid expansion of gross domestic product (GDP), as the country’s total economic output exceeded $1 trillion for the first time in 2004. Buoyed by worker productivity and emphasis on small- and medium-sized business, the nation of 50.4 million citizens seized opportunity through open trade policies to become a global export leader with a per capita GDP of $35,277 in 2015.

Taiwan

Taiwan’s contentious relationship with China notwithstanding, the nation of 23 million has maintained tenuous autonomy and achieved economic successes that have vaulted its per capita GDP to $45,854, one of the highest measures in Asia. In light of weakness in exports in 2015, the nation’s central bank cut interest rates for three consecutive quarters in an attempt to revive the economy in 2015. China’s press to unify Taiwan with Beijing has restricted free trade, causing GDP to contract 1% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2015.

Hong Kong

Known as a special administrative region within China, Hong Kong is afforded political and economic autonomy under the policy of “one country, two systems.” The agreement grants the Asian financial hub free reign over all matters except defense and foreign affairs until 2047. As of 2016, the country has been designated as the freest global economy for 22 consecutive years in an index created by the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation. The index examines four tenets: rule of law, open markets, limited government and regulatory efficiency.

Singapore

Runner-up to Hong Kong in the Index of Economic Freedom, Singapore is noted for its ultra-low unemployment rate of 2% as of 2016. An export-dependent nation, the Trans-Pacific Partnership member has drawn heavy foreign direct investment (FDI) in medical equipment technology and pharmaceuticals. Singapore was the fifth-largest worldwide recipient of FDI in 2014, as inflows increased 27% over 2013 to $81 billion.

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