Global Crisis Should Spur Further Asian Integration, Says ADB

News Release | 2 May 2010

TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN - Asia's ongoing recovery from the global economic crisis provides fresh opportunities to expand integration efforts in the region, which can benefit both Asia and the world, Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda told a seminar audience at ADB's 43rd Annual Meeting in Tashkent.

The Governors' Seminar on "Asian Integration and Global Growth" looked at the relationship between economic growth and regional integration. It focused on the lessons for Asia from the global crisis, including its likely impact on future integration initiatives. It also examined the role closer regional ties could play in aiding the global economy, and the key actions needed to boost increased links.

In addition to Mr. Kuroda and ADB Governor for Uzbekistan, Rustam Azimov, who hosted the event, other speakers were: Nick Sherry, Assistant Treasurer, Australia; Li Yong, Alternate ADB Governor for People's Republic of China; Pranab Mukherjee, ADB Governor for India; Armida Alisjahbana, Alternate ADB Governor for Indonesia; Carlo Monticelli, Alternate ADB Governor for Italy; Nobumitsu Hayashi, Temporary Alternate ADB Governor, Japan; and Je-Yoon Shin, Temporary Alternate ADB Governor, Republic of Korea. Eunice Yoon, CNN's Asia Business Editor, moderated the seminar.

Developing Asian economies have recovered faster from the downturn than most other parts of the world, supported by substantial stimulus packages. However, the global economic crisis has exposed Asia's over-reliance on exports, and highlighted the need to rebalance sources of growth, putting more emphasis on domestic demand. The seminar discussed how a more balanced growth would stimulate national income, final goods' consumption, greater intraregional trade in services, and how it would eventually attract more local and foreign investment.

While financial cooperation in Asia has progressed through the recent multilateralization of the Chiang Mai Initiative, which established a common pool of funds to offer liquidity support among ASEAN+3 countries, the seminar heard that more proactive measures to cushion the region from future shocks and to give Asia a more united voice in moves to reform the global financial architecture.

"Increasing interdependence across Asian economies offers a new platform for economic development - one that is good for individual countries, good for the region, and good for the world," Mr. Kuroda said.

The seminar also discussed the issue of how Asian countries could articulate a common voice within the G20 and other global forums. Asian leaders realize that the region's rising economic power is not reflected in its decision-making power in global institutions and several proposals have been made to reform the regional institutional architecture. In particular, the speakers converged on the need for better coordination of exchange rate policies among Asian countries.

Italy's Carlo Monticelli recommended the region establish an independent supranational authority separate from governments.

"To support economic growth and integration Asia needs to create a permanent secretariat to play a role similar to that the European Commission plays for Europe," he said.

"Asia is ready for a new round of closer economic integration and faster growth," said Li Yong of the PRC. He also stressed that sustained Asian economic growth and increased domestic demand will attract more exports from the US and Europe.

While expressing support for more robust regional economic integration initiatives, Pranab Mukherjee of India, noted that the benefits of Asia's economic integration should be consistent with the region's diversity, and ensure that the benefits of economic growth reach more people still living below the poverty line.

Seminar host Rustam Azimov said Uzbekistan was "committed to strengthen cooperation with other Asian countries as this brings economic benefits to all."