6How MNEs Help Mobilize Rural Labor for Industrialization, Alleviating Poverty (as have done across East Asia):Is the “America First” Policy a Threat?Terutomo Ozawareduction so much faster than any other region? We know that growth is the prerequisite to market-enabled poverty mitigation. Yet, growth alone is not sufficient for full explanation. What matters most is how--and in what specific way--such high growth occurred in that region. In other words, growth modality is crucial. Most importantly, those successful catch-ups in East Asia all started out with labor-intensive, basic manufacturing industries that can extricate poor people out of extreme poverty as discussed above.10 What is more, export-driven growth across East Asia didn’t occur all at once simultaneously. Instead, it has taken place in tandem (or staggered) succession over time. Even before the initiation of the MDG in 1990, a phenomenal catch-up had already occurred first in Japan (a re-catch-up after the devastation of World War II) and then in the NIEs (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan), not just eradicating abject poverty but also even raising their overall living standards close to those in the advanced West. And the ASEAN-4 (Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia) followed by China, which opened its doors for the outside world in 1978, but would take over the ASEAN-4 soon afterward, were already in steady catch-up. Most recently, furthermore, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar have begun to take off. In this sense, this type of staggered growth came to be popularly described as “flying-geese (FG)” formation of economic development in the region (inter alia, Akamatsu, 1962).11 One common characteristic in all these East Asian economies’ phenomenal takeoffs for catch-up is the mobilization and activation of rural labor to drive exports to earn precious foreign exchanges that can solidify official reserves and deal with the balance of payments problems that arise in the early phase of development. Also, this type of tandem catch-ups can also be described as “comparative-advantage relaying in labor-intensive industries,” a phenomenon that stems from staggered transmigrations of low-end manufacturing across the region̶with an export focus on advanced countries’ markets.12 This staggered feature is important. If these economies had pursued such an export-driven catch-up all at once simultaneously, the advanced West would be inundated with imports, which might have triggered protectionism. However, these staggered export-drives have been accepted by the importing economies, since low-end manufactured imports from each taking-off country have been relayed over time from one catching-up country to another, thereby keeping such imports at an contrast to East Asia, pulling down the overall performance of the “East Asia and the Pacific” region.10 True, ASEAN-4 (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines) are relatively more resource-abundant and relatively less manufacturing-oriented than the rest of East Asia (Japan, the NIEs, and China). But the former is focused simultaneously on resource extraction and manufacturing̶and in the recent past, increasingly more on manufacturing and resource-processing activities. 11 This theory was originally introduced by Kaname Akamatsu in the 1930s. Kiyoshi Kojima, who was one of Akamatsu’s proteges, elaborated on Akamatsu’s ideas in the former’s many writings published mostly in Japanese. For English publications, see, for example, Kojima (2000). For its updated, reformulated versions, see Ozawa’s trilogy (2005, 2009, and 2016).12 For an analysis of this phenomenon, see Chapter 6 in Ozawa (2016).