Asia called on to coordinate policies to avert global slump
02 Jun 2020
Coordination among Asian nations is key to steering the global economy toward recovery from the coronavirus crisis, according to former senior government officials and academics in the region.
Asian leaders should hold a summit to arrange financial, trade, public health and food security policies, according to a strategic plan released Wednesday by the Australian National University. The group behind the initiative includes advisers to the governments of China, Japan, Indonesia, India, Singapore and others, the statement said.
“Without international cooperation and coordination, the world is facing a prolonged health crisis and lasting economic stagnation on a scale not seen since the Great Depression,” said strategy co-author Peter Drysdale of the ANU’s Asian Bureau of Economic Research. “Asian economies will be central to global economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.”
The meeting’s key objectives should include: expanded bilateral currency swap arrangements to strengthen regional safety nets; the development, production and equitable distribution of diagnostic tests, a vaccine and treatments across Asia; and keeping medical and food markets open.
It should also agree to protocols to help restart international travel and commerce, conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and expand the digital transformation of health management, the statement showed.
The group said a regional leaders’ conference should comprise the Asean +6 dialog partners including Australia, India and China. The goal would be to avoid individual nations “acting in narrow self interest” with the almost certain unintended consequence of a deeper and prolonged economic downturn.
“Equally important is developing a regional and multilateral framework within which China will be welcome to contribute rather than let Beijing work alone,” said Drysdale, a professor at ANU and widely regarded as the intellectual architect of APEC.
The success of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government in dealing with the virus will, in the eyes of the many former officials, give Australia significant influence within the grouping, he said.
The group argues that if Asian countries successfully coordinate their responses to the coronavirus, they will encourage the US and Europe to follow a similar path.
“We must seize the opportunity the virus has provided to secure cooperation, economic development and strengthening of common ties in Asia,” Drysdale said. “This will be good for Asia, good for Australia and good for the world.”