International trade plays an important role in the process of economic growth, even though it may not be called an engine of growth. The high growth experienced by the Asian NICs clearly shows that the outward-oriented trade strategy is superior to the inward-oriented strategy.
Economic growth, on the other hand, brings about changes in a country's terms of trade, relative factor endowment, and hence its comparative advantage. Industrialization typically diversifies a country's export composition of manufactured goods and leads to intra-industry trade.
The thesis finds that in East and south-East Asia; there is a multiple catch-up structure of comparative advantage in the process of rapid industrialization; the NICs are catching up with Japan while they themselves are being pursued by the ASEAN countries. Industrialization has also made the countries' trade structure similar to each other, and has increased their levels of intra-industry trade, which implies more mutual industrialization relation among them.