While global economic growth is widely held to continue a downward trend, with possible deglobalization on the cards, there are some positive signs that point towards an Asian-led recovery.
The International Monetary Fund’s forecast for Asian growth in mid-April showed that it is expected to stall at zero percent in 2020, the worst growth performance in almost 60 years, but it pointed out that the region still looks to fare better than other regions.
Cambodian-based think tank Asia Vision Institute (AVI) told CGTN that such a positive trajectory is starting to trickle in given China’s recovery as well as the gradual easing of curbs in several other Southeast Asian countries in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I personally believe that the Asian economy will be the locomotive for the global economic recovery,” said AVI president and public policy analyst Vannarith Chheang.
Chheang said that even though the outlook points to zero or even negative growth for the year, he pointed to a potential catalyst for recovery, the largest global trade pact – the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
“We are also hopeful that regional economic integration will continue. Especially the conclusion of the regional comprehensive economic partnership which has 16 member countries. Now India also has considered entering into that negotiation. That is another catalyst for economic recovery in Asia,” said Chheang.
Meanwhile, Chheang pointed out that over the past four months, ASEAN has become the largest trading partner for China, replacing the EU. Trade between China and ASEAN economies rose by 0.5 percent year on year to 85.32 billion U.S. dollars in January and February, against the backdrop of falling trade with most other trading members as a result of the pandemic.
“China-ASEAN trade will remain robust, even though it was disrupted by the pandemic outbreak in the past four months. But you can see a gradual resumption of the supply chains,” he said, adding that politically all the leaders are continuing to maintain an open and inclusive supply chain network and open trade.
Chheang forecasts continued growth in May onwards till the end of 2020 of the bilateral trade volume between China and ASEAN countries, which he said would be “positive for the regional and global economy.”
Meanwhile, he also commented on Asia’s leadership role, saying that China and Asian countries strongly believe in multilateralism and cooperation, which is helpful in times when the global community needs to deal with an economic crisis.
“Well, we need to follow what we believe in. We believe in open and inclusive regionalism, we believe in open globalization, inclusive globalization. We believe in multilateralism, rule-based trading systems. As long as we stick to all these values, the global economy will bounce back.”
“We could not deal with this issue alone. It is a systemic unprecedented crisis that requires multi-stakeholder international cooperation. So China, ASEAN countries, Asian countries have a strong belief in multilateralism, we need to advance and strengthen this,” he said.