Woo Wing Thye is Distinguished Professor of Economics at University of California in Davis, and Research Professor at Sunway University in Kuala Lumpur where he heads the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia and Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development. He also holds academic appointments at Fudan University in Shanghai and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.
He is an expert on East Asian economies, particularly China, Indonesia and Malaysia. His current research focuses on designing efficient, equitable pathways to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals with projects on Green Finance, Middle Income Trap, and Global Economic Architecture for the Multi-Polar World.
Woo’s article “The Monetary Approach to Exchange Rate Determination under Rational Expectations: The Dollar-Deutschemark Case,” Journal of International Economics (JIE), February 1985, was identified by JIE in 2000 ase one of the 25 most cited articles in its 30-year history. His article “China Meets the Middle-Income Trap: The Large Potholes in the Road to Catching-Up,” Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies (JCEBS), November 2012, was awarded the Best Paper Prize at the 30th Anniversary Conference of the Chinese Economist Association (UK/Europe) in 2018.
Woo has advised several governments and international organizations. In early 1990s, he advised several centrally-planned economies on their transition strategies to market economy (Economies in Transition: Comparing Asia and Europe, MIT Press, 1997); and Indonesia on growth strategies and exchange rate management (Macroeconomic Crisis and Long-Term Growth: The Case of Indonesia,1965-1990, World Bank Press, 1994). He advised China’s Ministry of Finance on the comprehensive tax and exchange rate reforms implemented in January 1994 (Fiscal Management and Economic Reform in the People’s Republic of China, Oxford University Press, 1995), and the U.S. Treasury in 1997-98 on the Asian Financial Crisis (The Asian Financial Crisis: Lessons for a Resilient Asia, MIT Press, 2000). From 2002-2005, he was the Special Advisor for East Asian Economies in the Millennium Project of the United Nations; in July 2005, he was appointed to the International Advisory Panel to Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi of Malaysia; and in 2008, he became the economic advisor to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng of Penang State. From 2009-2015, Wing was the Convener of “The Shadow G-20 Workshop” co-sponsored by the Asian Development Bank and Earth Institute at Columbia University; and selected proceedings of these workshops will be published as A New Global Financial Architecture for a Multi-Polar World, MIT Press (forthcoming). He was a coordinator of the ADB Institute project, Financing Green Development, 2017-2019, and the outcome is Handbook of Green Finance: Energy Security and Sustainable Development, Tokyo: Springer, 2019.
Woo has been the convener of the Asian Economic Panel (AEP) since 2001, a forum of specialists on Asian economies which meets tri-annually and publishes the Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press (of which he is the Editor-in-Chief). He was President of the Chinese Economists Association of North America (CEANA) in 2002, and President of the Chinese Economists Society (CEA) in 2016. Woo is active in the East Asia Economic Association (serving as Director since 2015); the Chinese Economist Association (UK/Europe), serving as Editor of Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies since 2003; and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), serving as a Member of the Networks Strategy Council (governing board) and the Co-Chair of its Southeast Asian Leadership Council.
University of California, Davis awarded Wing its Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award in 2004 and appointed him Distinguished Professor in 2019; the Ministry of Education of China appointed him Chang Jiang Professor in 2006; the Governor of Penang conferred on him the title Dato’ in 2009; and the Thousand Talents Program of China appointed him a National Distinguished Expert in 2016. In 2020, The University of Cambodia awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Sustainable Development and conferred on him Honorary Membership of the Board to Trustees.
Wing was born in 1954 in George Town, Penang, Malaysia. He graduated from Swarthmore College in 1976 with a B.A. (High Honors) in Economics, and a B.S. in Engineering; and received an M.A. in Economics from Yale in 1978, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard in 1982.