UN meeting concludes New Sources of Economic Growth must be found within Asia-Pacific Region

Three day meeting examines fiscal, monetary and debt management policies in region

A United Nations meeting wrapped up today with countries agreeing that the Asia-Pacific region must look inwards to develop new engines of growth in order to pull itself out of the effects of the global recession.

No longer able to rely on the United States and the European Union as drivers of the region’s economy, Asia-Pacific states should look to boost the share of domestic demand to make up for the expected loss in traditional export markets, said participants at the regional high-level workshop on Strengthening the response of the global financial crisis in Asia-Pacific: the role of monetary, fiscal and external debt policies.

Despite the economic dynamism of the Asia-Pacific region, 582 million people were undernourished in 2007. “Incorporating the poor to the mainstream is not only a desirable policy objective in itself but also a way to add millions of new consumers, providing a new engine of economic growth,” the workshop concluded in its final statement.

The 27 to 30 July meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh, was organized by the Macroeconomic Policy and Development Division (MPDD) of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and hosted by the Bangladesh Bank.

The meeting took the approach of examining the combined issues of the fiscal, monetary and debt management policies Asia-Pacific governments adopt in their efforts to address the deep worldwide economic downturn.

“The promotion of such dialogue is desirable because of the inter-relationships between the three types of policies and the need to coordinate them in order to maximize their joint effectiveness,” the statement said.

Among its other conclusions, the meeting agreed that expanding economic cooperation and integration in the region, through such measures as deepening and consolidating existing regional trade agreements or exploiting the large potential for monetary and financial cooperation was also a possible source of new income.

Top officials from the Ministries of Finance and central banks of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam took part in the meeting, as did experts from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and a number of non-governmental organizations.