Asian Countries, especially China, have in recent years enjoyed high rates of economic growth, offering unparalleled opportunities for investors and traders from both inside and outside the region. While there are moves towards Asian economic integration, barriers must be overcome: witness maritime disputes in the South China Sea, differing levels of development, and deficient domestic institutional structures, which inhibit advanced economic cooperation. Additionally, a number of regional integrative bodies with overlapping jurisdictions and responsibilities impede effective decision making. The region also suffers from inadequate physical infrastructure, although the Chinese leaders have been proactive in promoting the intra- and inter-regional One Belt One Road (BRI) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) initiatives. This is the general context within which the following chapters relating to multinational corporations (MNCs) may be understood. Key words: economic integration, foreign direct investment (FDI), connectivity, One Belt One Road (BRI), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
A key to furthering Asian economic integration is labour deployment, subject to community-level and national legislation but essential if local and Western multinational corporations (MNCs) are to take full advantage of the unparalleled market opportunities presented by a rising middle class with discretionary income. Advanced technologies are facilitating value-added production and the creation of knowledge economies, requiring a highly skilled labour force and a premium placed on innovation. This demands effective human resource management to spur employee initiative in the service of corporate objectives, drawing on both imported Western and local cultural values. Key words: middle class, niche markets, labour mobility, knowledge-based economy, human resource management.