Chair's remarks by Hong Nam-Ki, Chair of the Board of Governors, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Korea at the 53rd ADB Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors Business Session, 22 May 2020

Fellow Governors, official representatives, and ladies and gentlemen,

Today, we are facing the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 outbreak. As we need unprecedented cooperation, the International Community is working together to navigate its way through this difficult period. 

In particular, we welcome and support the ADB playing a leading role in fighting COVID-19, including the recent announcement of a twenty billion dollar package to address the needs of developing member countries. 

In the spirit of solidarity and cooperation, Korea is doing its part in the Asia Pacific region’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as the chair country for the 2020 ADB Annual Meeting. Alongside the International Community, we are sharing our experiences with successful ICT-based quarantines and fiscal and monetary policies to mitigate the socio-economic spillover effects. Korea is also moving rapidly to provide testing kits and technological assistance by leveraging our Trust Fund.

Our choices and efforts today will determine whether we can overcome the current healthcare and economic crises and return to a normal economic path in the post-COVID-19 era. 

With this in mind, I would like to stress three points that the ADB should focus on. 

First, enhancing knowledge sharing among ADB members on COVID-19 responses. 
We have to share experiences with successful healthcare and quarantine measures and best practices in social and economic policies. It is also crucial that we make a joint effort to build and implement exit strategies to prevent a second wave of infections. While thorough quarantines should be maintained, it is important to seek a balance between quarantines and economic considerations by ensuring necessary movement and economic activities.

Second, expanding support for low-income countries and vulnerable people. 
The conventional social safety net has shown its limitations for assisting low-income and vulnerable groups, who are exposed to greater risks during this unforeseen crisis. We will work on strengthening the social safety net, particularly for those who have remained outside the employment insurance system. I would like to encourage the ADB to implement measures to help countries overcome the crisis and regain their economic resilience. In this way, those in need can endure the current ‘valley of the crisis’ and get back on their feet. 

Third, turning this crisis into an opportunity for innovation. 
It is expected that the way we work and live will greatly change and the features of global value chains will differ in the post-coronavirus period. There are mixed views: a positive outlook that the pace of innovation will accelerate, alongside concerns that productivity will decline due to de-globalization. 

We should not only deal with the imminent pandemic, but also focus our attention on innovation for adapting to the shifting needs of the post-crisis world. It is essential that we innovate our healthcare and medical systems to leave no one behind. Efforts should also be made to promote non-contact and digital-based innovation. 

These three areas are aligned with the 3Is – the theme of this year’s Annual Meeting – Integration, Inclusiveness, and Innovation. 

We will have the second part of this year’s Annual Meeting in Incheon this September on a full scale. While fighting against COVID-19, the Korean government is making every effort to prepare for the upcoming Annual Meeting in September. Instituting intensive quarantine and prevention systems, Korea will provide a venue for discussing our crisis response, future vision, and the role of the ADB, centered on the 3Is.

Despite the difficult situation, I hope that you and the Governors come to Incheon in September and that we have fruitful discussions at the Annual Meeting.

I wish you good health and prosperity. 

Thank you.