Asia needs to leverage stronger regional cooperation to boost COVID-19 recovery: ADB

Stronger regional cooperation strategies — including in health, trade, finance, and disaster risk — can help governments in Asia and the Pacific accelerate economic growth and a robust recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new book released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

“Regional cooperation and integration has been an effective driver for strong economic growth and a sharp reduction in poverty,” ADB vice-president for knowledge management and sustainable development Bambang Susantono said in a statement.

Further, “the COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call to all of us that our usual assumptions and approaches to regional cooperation and integration have to change in ways that promote resilience and sustainability,” it noted.

Susantono highlighted the need for Asia and the Pacific to reassess its regional cooperation and integration strategies and pathways.

This new book, Future of Regional Cooperation in Asia and the Pacific, provides insights and a foundation for deeper and more effective regional cooperation for a world reshaped by the pandemic.

The book provides a critical examination of regional cooperation initiatives and explores opportunities for economies in the region to work together to recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moreover, the book examines approaches to strengthen regional trade and investment; improve intraregional infrastructure and connectivity; reduce financial risk; coordinate health systems and approaches; and enhance coordination on cross-border issues such as climate change and ocean health.

Enhanced regional cooperation can, for example, help expand trade and investment by opening avenues and opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to participate more actively in local and global supply chains through better transportation and connectivity, it said.

Innovative financing, which accepts collateral other than land, can empower women-led businesses, which currently suffer from approximately 2.5 times less access to credit than male-led businesses, it noted.

Noting that Asia and the Pacific remains as a hotspot for emerging diseases, natural disasters, and climate hazards, the book has recommended a range of multilateral interventions including strengthening national health systems to ensure regional health security; building the capacity of personal protective equipment producers; and providing knowledge support and financing for ocean health initiatives to build resilience.

Regional cooperation and integration is among the operational priorities in ADB’s Strategy 2030, and focuses on four pillars: infrastructure connectivity; regional public goods; regional trade and investment; and financial cooperation.

Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.


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