Governors’ Seminar: Cooperation for a Resilient Future

Monday, 3 May 2021, 5:00 pm–6:30 pm , GMT+8

Governors' Seminar - Annual Meeting 2021


Masatsugu Asakawa
President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Taro Aso
Governor for Japan, ADB; Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, and Minister of State for Financial Services, Japan

Carlos G. Dominguez
Governor for the Philippines, ADB; Department of Finance Secretary, Philippines

Lasha Khutsishvili
Chair of the ADB Board of Governors and Governor for Georgia, ADB; Minister of Finance, Georgia

Nirmala Sitharaman
Governor for India, ADB; Minister of Finance and Minister of Corporate Affairs, India

Kitty van der Heijden
Alternate Governor for the Netherlands, ADB; Director General for International Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands

Jiayi Zou
Alternate Governor for the People’s Republic of China (PRC), ADB; Vice Finance Minister, PRC


Zeinab Badawi
International Broadcaster and Chair of the Royal African Society

Seminar summary

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted cross-border trade, investment, and tourism—exposing vulnerabilities in global supply chains and turning back the clock on globalization. The unprece­dented impact of the pandemic is a reminder of how deeply connected all countries are and that we need to work together to overcome daunting challenges brought by the pandemic and ensure a green, sustainable, and inclusive recovery.

In his initial interventions, Minister Khutsishvili highlighted the potential of digital transformation to support a resilient and inclusive recovery, and encouraged the implementation of economic policies to improve internet access and digital skills. He also emphasized that the future of the global economy should be bridging gaps and not creating artificial barriers. In response, the distinguished panel identified several other areas where cooperation and policy coordination are crucial—both at the regional and global fronts—for post-pandemic recovery and growth.

One of the immediate and cri­tical areas where international policy coordination is needed is the develop­ment, production, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Looking at the experience of India in vaccine production, Minister Sitharaman pointed out that there should be a global platform for information sharing, particularly on sourcing raw materials. 

Secretary Dominguez called on multilateral development banks and international organizations to join forces in addressing the uneven distribution of vaccines between developed and developing economies, and ensuring that access to vaccines is provided to low-income economies. Given the huge gap in the supply and demand of vaccines, the panel agreed that more financial resources are required to invest more on vaccine manufacturing within the Asia and Pacific region.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the significant weakness of the region’s healthcare systems as the lack of health insurance has pushed more people into poverty. Even before the pandemic, Japan has been reite­rating the importance of the universal health coverage (UHC) to enhance pandemic preparedness and responses. Minister Aso noted three key factors for the establishment of UHC based on Japan’s experience: institutional framework, including medical insurance; human resource development; and infrastructure investment to support the health system.

Several panelists also tackled the issue of reforms to address the challenges of attaining sustainable and inclusive development. Ms. Zou noted that regional cooperation is needed to foster a green recovery through the development of clean and low carbon technologies and solutions for developing Asian economies. She also encouraged the enhancement of innovative trade and strengthening of institutional capacity to provide digital solutions.  Ms. van der Heijden urged putting vulnerable groups, particularly women and girls, at the core of any recovery strategy to ensure equitable access to education, health, and other social services.

In response, President Asakawa underscored three priorities for regional cooperation across Asia and the Pacific. The first is to reinvigorate trade and investment and deepen regional supply chains. Excellent examples are the recent mega­trade deals—the Comprehensive and Prog­ressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership comprising 11 members, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership comprising 15 members. Second, the region needs to enhance regional financial safety nets, such as the ASEAN+3 Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation, to cushion possible spillovers from global financial shocks. Third is the enhancement of regional health security through improvement of communicable disease control, disease surveillance and outbreak response systems, and information sharing. President Asakawa also highlighted the importance of addressing the digital divide to ensure an inclusive economic recovery.

Related links