It’s no secret that I’m a big supporter of helping meeting professionals identify international opportunities. As Director of PCMA’s Global Development department, I spend quite a bit of time traveling to new destinations to understand how the entire world is looking at the future of travel, business and conferences. While I’ve been lucky to hear plenty of inspiring thinkers, the 2014 SACEOS MICE Forum at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore introduced me to one of the most compelling leaders in the world: Kishore Mahbubani.
Mahbubani’s mile-long list of accomplishments includes two stints as Singapore’s Ambassador to the United Nations and a term as President of the UN Security Council. Currently, he serves as Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. In a keynote address, he shared his expertise in global affairs and offered a look at how social, political and economic changes will impact Asia and the rest of the world.
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“Today, Western cultures have begun questioning the wisdom of free market economics because of the 2008 financial crisis,” Mahbubani said. “Asia is signing more free trade agreements, and the United States is no longer passing those agreements.”
As meeting professionals look to the future, it’s clear that the globe is spinning in a new direction. Here’s a look at three key figures that offer a preview of where it’s heading — and where it will take your meeting.
1) Today: Approximately 35 - 40 percent of the world’s population lives in China, India and Indonesia.
There are 196 countries in the world, but the globe’s population is disproportionately centered in Asia. These countries have the greatest resource: people. The world can no longer look at these as simply “emerging” markets, either. The people who call these countries home are on ambitious pursuit to become leaders. Consider these statistics: in 2013, the number of students in India who took the GRE exam increased by 70 percent versus 2012. The number of applications to American graduate programs from India increased by 22 percent in the same time period.
2) By 2020: The Asian middle class will be 1.75 billion people strong.
In 2010, the total size of the Asian middle class was 500 million. As economic development continues to kick into overdrive, the middle class will balloon to a whopping 1.75 billion by the end of the decade. It’s important to recognize the members of this middle class will be looking for opportunities to climb even higher on the social ladder. They’re the opportunities that forward-thinking meeting professionals can help deliver to these emerging markets with continuing education credits and career advancement courses.
3) By 2030: The Chinese economy will be twice the size of the United States.
As the middle class matures, Mahbubani predicts that we won’t just see China’s GDP outpace the United States GDP. Based on these projections, it will reach another stratosphere. More importantly, Chinese citizens don’t just possess the potential for increased earnings in the future. They already hold an essential ingredient of success: hope. According to data from Pew, 82 percent of Chinese expect today’s children to grow up to be financially better off than their parents.
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So what do these statistics mean? It’s simple: it’s time to outline an international engagement strategy. How is your organization positioning itself to attract this massive Asian middle class? What kind of partnerships have you developed in order to establish a footprint on the continent? When is the right time to plan your first international meeting? Click here to access PCMA’s Global Professionals OnDemand education bundle to learn how to host a meeting in Asia, how to navigate critical legal issues and much more.