This year's Governors' Seminar (GS) aimed to stir debate and explored the next stage of Asia's economic transformation. The discussion focused on the welfare impact any potential economic slowdown and rebalancing would have on poverty, inequality, employment, and the environment.
The session examined policy options on short and medium-term structural challenges central to the region's crisis mitigation and ongoing economic transformation, ranging from rebalancing to trade policy and regional financial safety nets. How can we best use unfolding events to divine a better path toward sustainable, inclusive growth and development?
The Great Recession and current eurozone sovereign debt crisis laid bare the need for Asia to confront new challenges to its economic transformation. The global economy needs to readjust. And Asia — increasingly central to global economic growth — must contribute by diversifying its sources of growth toward greater domestic and regional demand. It needs to better allocate its large financial resources toward productive and socially equitable investments. This year could prove pivotal. With crisis and renewed recession looming in Europe — and the U.S. economy growing but fragile — can Asia weather another global economic slowdown? Is there sufficient monetary and fiscal space for policymakers to respond promptly, decisively, and effectively?
Many speak of a seismic shift in economic gravity toward Asia. With the People's Republic of China (PRC) — and India — indisputably core players in the region, how can their disparate yet fundamental growth challenges be met? How will their trade and investment strategies meld with ASEAN, SAARC, CAREC, and other subregions? Is regional cooperation a canard? Or is there room for real synergy?
These are ambitious questions. Yet they are worth investigating.
The immediate challenge for the region's policymakers is to prepare options for responding to a sudden economic disruption, a spillover into Asia through financial and trade channels.
But even more challenging is to deal with these immediate issues with a strategic eye to avoid any disruption in the region's continuing economic transformation. The debate must include discussion on how to adjust the development paradigm to better accommodate global economic change while ensuring sustained growth is possible — growth that is more inclusive and responsible, ultimately boosting the welfare of the majority of Asia's population.
Director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University
Cesar V. Purisima
Chair of the Board of Governors of ADB and Governor for the Philippines in ADB, Secretary of Finance, Philippines
Alternate Governor for the People's Republic of China in ADB, Vice Minister of Finance, People's Republic of China
Vice Chair of the Board of Governors of ADB and Governor for Germany in ADB, State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development
Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Japan
Professor, School of Economics, University of Tokyo
Moderator: Nik Gowing, International Journalist and Broadcaster