Opening remarks by Masatsugu Asakawa, President, Asian Development Bank, at the International Economic Association World Congress 2021, 2 July 2021


Distinguished guests, it is a great pleasure to join you today.

For over 70 years, IEA has played a vital role in bringing together experts and researchers from around the world to address important economic challenges.

Finding solutions for our developing member countries is also at the core of ADB’s mission.

We meet together at the International Economic Association World Congress 2021 during a critical moment for the global economy. This year’s theme, “Equity, Sustainability and Prosperity in a Fractured World,” is especially timely. 

I would like to express my deep appreciation for my fellow presenters, Minister Sri Mulyani and Professor Kaushik Basu, for enriching this conference with their deep insights and experiences.

I will speak to you today about the economic outlook for developing Asia and some of the critical policy areas for securing a strong and lasting recovery in the region.

I. Asia’s recent economic developments and economic outlook

Let me begin with the economic outlook.

Recent progress on vaccines has given us hope to turn the tide of the pandemic. But renewed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreaks and uneven vaccination rollout across Asia show that the path to recovery will not be easy.

After a mild 0.2% contraction last year, growth in developing Asia is forecast to rebound to 7.3% this year and 5.3% next year. The growth trajectory will not be uniform, as global growth will help boost exports in some economies, while continuing containment and travel restrictions will restrain growth in others.

Regional GDP will remain below the pre-pandemic trend. The slack in many economies will keep regional inflation muted.

The evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic poses the main risk to the economic outlook in the medium term, as well as the possibility of long-term scarring effects that may limit the ability to invest in an inclusive recovery.

ADB continues to provide steadfast support to our developing member countries as they confront and recover from the pandemic. Our $20 billion COVID-19 assistance package includes quick-disbursing budget support under our COVID-19 Pandemic Response Option, or CPRO. We are also helping our member countries procure and deliver safe and effective vaccines through our $9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access facility, or APVAX.

II. Five priority policy areas for the region

As we look ahead, I see five areas critical to achieving a lasting and equitable recovery for the region.

First, we need to place ambitious climate actions at the center of development—committing fully to the goals of the Paris Agreement, while increasing our region’s focus on adaptation and resilience.

Second, we must address inequality—including the gender gap, which has worsened during the pandemic—by investing in health, education, and social protection.

Third, we should promote high-quality green and digital infrastructure—by rebuilding smartly, closing the digital gap, and attracting private investment.

Fourth, we need to deepen regional cooperation and integration so that our developing member countries can seize the opportunities of renewed globalization and strengthen regional health security.

And fifth, we should strengthen domestic resource mobilization, to ensure that governments have adequate resources to finance sustainable growth and to respond effectively to future crises. 


Let me end by noting that we value collaboration deeply.

In that spirit, I am pleased to announce the launch of a new ADB-IEA Award aimed at promoting innovative research on key development challenges in Asia.

The winner will receive a research grant and an invitation to present at both ADB’s Annual Meeting in 2022 and our prestigious Asia Thought Leader Series. The winner will also have the opportunity to collaborate with us to strengthen our policy support to ADB’s developing member countries.

We encourage talented researchers from universities and other institutions to apply—including young scholars, women, and citizens of developing countries. Details of the award process will be shared soon.

Let me stop here. Thank you for your attention.