Inclusive policies critical to build regional resilience amidst global economic uncertainty, ESCAP tells Asia-Pacific forum

Inclusive growth policies to reduce wide socio-economic disparities within the region will be critical in helping developing Asia-Pacific countries build resilience to future global economic shocks, the United Nations told a high-level policymakers’ forum here.

Central bankers, senior policy advisors, and heads of economic think-tanks from across Asia-Pacific met with experts from international organizations from 6 to 8 September in the Philippines’ capital to review lessons from the region’s response to the global financial and economic crisis and emerging challenges in the form of food and energy price volatility, the slowdown in global recovery and increasing financial instability.

The High-level Regional Policy Dialogue, “Asia-Pacific economies after the global financial crisis: Lessons learnt, challenges for building resilience, and issues for global reform” was organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Philippines central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
“Inclusive policies should be at the core of sustaining and rebalancing growth in the years ahead,” Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP said in her inaugural statement to the forum.

“As the world economy looks for new sources of aggregate demand, inclusive policies to lift up the poor, such as social protection, financial inclusion, job-creation and agricultural and rural development, will not only raise the quality of life for many people, but also make good economic sense,” said Dr. Heyzer in her statement read out by ESCAP Chief Economist Nagesh Kumar.

Although developing Asia-Pacific economies emerged from the depths of crisis as a new growth pole of the world economy, they face a tough policy environment calling for greater cooperation and fresh re-thinking on the sources of resilience and root causes of vulnerabilities, the Dialogue was told by participants including senior experts from the South Centre, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), International Labour Organization (ILO), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Group of 24 nations.

Various dimensions of rebalancing growth were discussed, including the need to increase consumption in East Asia, particularly in China, the need to promote activities and sectors relying on wage employment, and the role of improving income distribution for enhancing effective demand.

In his keynote speech, BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco said the unprecedented volatility in global financial markets has shown that prudent national policies are insufficient on their own, and should be accompanied by multi-layered cooperation at regional and global levels.

In the emerging markets the rising inflationary pressures are often taken as signs of overheating, leading the central banks to tighten the monetary policy which is not helping to reduce inflationary pressures but is affecting the pace of recovery adversely, said Nagesh Kumar, ESCAP chief economist. “There is need for international regulation of commodity markets,” he noted.

Participants welcomed the G20 efforts to enhance transparency in commodity markets but said much more needed to be done. Nepal’s central bank Governor Yubaraj Khatiwada highlighted the importance of reforming the global reserve currency system.

A roundtable on Asia-Pacific perspectives on the agenda for the upcoming G20 Summit reviewed concerns over the adverse impact on the region of the monetary easing policies adopted by the advanced economies to combat recession. It was pointed out that it was important for the G20 to consider the views of excluded countries, especially least developed countries (LDCs).