International conference emphasizes regional economic cooperation and integration in achieving inclusive and sustainable growth

A two-day conference on regional integration and economic resilience called for greater efforts by governments to strengthen economic cooperation and integration in the Asia-Pacific region for promoting inclusive and sustainable growth.

In his welcoming remarks, Professor Jong-Wha Lee, President of Korea International Economic Association (KIEA) and Director of Asiatic Research Institute at Korea University, said “Amid an emergence of nationalism and anti-globalization in Western countries, intraregional trade and investment in Asia have become more important than ever. Despite being deeply interdependent, countries in the region still struggle to act collectively.”

“Regional cooperation and integration can play a pivotal role in supporting the region’s progress and in addressing the challenges it faces,” said Chief Economist and Director General of Asian Development Bank (ADB) Dr. Yasuyuki Sawada. “It can help accelerate economic growth, reduce poverty and economic disparities, raise productivity and employment, and strengthen institutions.”

“Asia is forecasted to maintain a strong growth rate of 5 per cent for the next two years, continuing to drive global economic growth,” according to Chairman and President of the Export-Import Bank of Korea Mr. JongKu Choi. “Drawing on the Republic of Korea’s development know-how and ODA experiences in developing countries, Korea Eximbank will continue to support development of Asia by providing a wide range of innovative export-import financing tools.”

Dr. Kilaparti Ramakrishna, Director and Head of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) East and North-East Asia Office, called for countries to take a lead in bringing together the Asia-Pacific region and to advance regional cooperation and integration. “Integrated markets, seamless connectivity, financial cooperation, and addressing shared vulnerabilities are the key areas for improving functional cooperation and integration in the region,” he said, referring to the Bangkok Declaration which was endorsed in 2014.

Participants from the region underscored the importance of expanding global value chains and green trade to reduce climate change and disaster risks. In the face of uncertain global environment and growing protectionism, they urged trade liberalization through multilateral free trade agreements and regional investment treaties to help increase foreign direct investment and enhance the region’s economic resilience to slowing global growth.

Director of ADB, Dr. Cyn-Young Park, added that “Regional integration is a multidimensional process that cannot be captured by a single variable alone. While the Asia-Pacific region made significant progress in regional integration driven largely by trade and investment, there is still a need to further develop institutional and social frameworks to fully achieve regional integration.”

The Second Ministerial Conference on Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration is tentatively scheduled to be held in October 2017 by ESCAP in Bangkok, Thailand to promote regional economic cooperation integration for enhancing the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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For media enquiries, please contact:

Ms. Jiwon Kim, Communications Consultant, ESCAP East and North-East Asia Office,
W: +82 32 458 6617 / E: [email protected]

Mr. Fahad Khan, Economist, Regional Cooperation and Integration Section, ADB
W: +632 632 4456 / E: [email protected]

Mr. Moonsung Kang, Professor, Korea University
W: +82 2 3290 2420 / E: [email protected]