Despite concerns over the U.S. Federal Reserve winding down its massive bond-buying program coupled with forecasts of an economic slowdown in China, business leaders remained upbeat about the strength and resilience of Asian economies.
“Asian economies have pursued sound macroeconomic policies and banks are well capitalized and financial regulations and supervision have been strengthened,” said Asian Development Bank President Takehiko Nakao during an international conference in Seoul on Tuesday.
He noted that emerging markets in Asia, including Korea, were hit recently by increased market volatility following the U.S. Fed’s moves to taper its stimulus program.
Asian countries are now in a better position to cope with repercussions, Nakao said.
In his keynote speech, the ADB chief noted that substantial progress has been made in Asia’s economic cooperation and integration since the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the stronger economic ties played a critical role in the region’s growth over the past decades.
“Korea’s success offers a great example of how a country can both contribute to and benefit from economic integration,” he said.
But he admitted that Asia is facing increasing challenges that require closer regional cooperation, especially in trade and investment.
He noted, in particular, the growing need for a foreign-currency reserve pool.
This is why the $240 billion Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization Agreement between Japan, Korea, China and 10 Southeast Asian nations will contribute to a “greater financial stability,” Nakao said.
“The regional governments should continue to maintain and strengthen open trade investment regimes and also to improve connectivity with neighboring countries,” he added.
The Korea Institute for International Economic Policy and the Asian Development Bank cohosted the one-day conference in cooperation with the Ministry of Strategy and Finance.
Under the theme of “Strengthening Economic Cooperation in Asia,” business leaders and scholars participated in a series of presentations and discussions on challenges and prospects for the Asian economies.
Key participants included Masahiro Kawai, dean of the Asian Development Bank Institute; Tatsuro Yamasaki, director-general of the Ministry of Finance in Japan; Toshiro Nishizawa, professor of the University of Tokyo; Ping Yang, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission of China; and Kwon Goo-hoon, a senior strategist at Goldman Sachs.
“Asia was certainly on par with Europe in terms of the vision and desire to form a closer economic community,” Lee Il-houng, president of the state-run institution KIEP, said in his opening remarks.
“Yet it fell behind in speed and scope,” he added, calling for more economic ties between Asian countries to face increasing global challenges.
By Oh Kyu-wook (firstname.lastname@example.org)