D-8 Responses To The Global Competitiveness: Reinforcing Prudent Policies To Guard Economic Resilience

Opening Speech
Excellencies,
Distinguished Speakers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, allow me to offer our praise and gratitude to God the Almighty for it is with His mercy and grace that we are able to assemble here today. I would like also to thank TASAM for cordially inviting me as the Secretary General of the D-8 Organization, to speak at this Congress. I am certain that everyone in this meeting is well aware the history behind establishment of D-8 so I will not go into its details.

D-8, as one of economic groupings in the world, was established with the objective to be the mechanism of cooperation in the economic sector through sharing of expertise in order to improve the position of Member Countries in the global economy. In line with current demand, the scope of cooperation has been expanded to create new opportunities in trade relations, besides several other major sectors such as Agriculture, Industry and SMEs, etc. It has also intended to enhance the participation of Member Countries in the process of decision making at the international level. All of these dimensions need to be put in a coherent agenda of D-8 cooperation. As a consequence of this objectives, in its cooperation D-8 works encompassing all areas including political consultation and coordination at the international fora.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
As the beginning, let allow me to brief some think-tanks of the balance of economic power in Asia. The idea that the world’s economic center of gravity is moving eastward is not new. But the global financial crisis, many argue, has given the shift in economic power from America and Western Europe to Asia a big shove. Emerging Asia rebounded from recession much faster than the developed world and its banking systems and debt dynamics are much healthier.




Some of the most important ingredients required to create an attractive emerging market can be found in Asia. High population levels and increasing wealth, combined with low insurance penetration in many regions, are proven tempting for some foreign insurers. Since 1995 Asia’s real GDP (even including less sprightly Japan) has grown more than twice as fast as that of America or Western Europe. Morgan Stanley forecasts that it will grow by an average of 7% this year and next, compared with 3% for America and 1.2% for Western Europe.

What about Asia’s financial muscle? Asian stock markets account for 34% of global market capitalization, ahead of both America (33%) and Europe (27%). Asian central banks also hold two-thirds of all foreign-exchange reserves. In addition, ff GDP is instead measured at purchasing-power parity (PPP) to take account of these lower prices, Asia’s share of the world economy has risen more steadily, from 18% in 1980 to 27% in 1995 and 34% in 2009. By this gauge, Asia’s economy will probably exceed the combined sum of America’s and Europe’s within four years. In PPP terms, three of the world’s four biggest economies (China, Japan and India) are already in Asia, and Asia has accounted for half of the world’s GDP growth over the past decade.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Congruent with briefly economic power in Asia recently as stated above, there are several challenges in global economic situation. After suffering a major setback during 2011, global prospects are gradually strengthening again, but downside risks remain elevated. Accordingly, weak recovery will likely resume in the major advanced economies, and activity is expected to remain relatively solid in most emerging and developing economies. However, the recent improvements are very fragile. For instance, trade and production slowed noticeably, in emerging Asia and Latin America, owing partly to cyclical factors through recent policy tightening. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), activity remained subdued amid social unrest and geopolitical uncertainty. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), growth has continued largely unabated, helped by favorable commodity prices. In emerging Europe, weak growth in the euro area had a larger impact than elsewhere.

Although the recovery was always expected to be weak and vulnerable because of the legacy of the financial crisis, other factors have played important roles. In the euro area, these include EMU design flaws; In the United States, by contrast, activity accelerated, as consumption and inventory investment strengthened. Credit and the labor market also began to show signs of life. Real GDP also contracted in Japan, reflecting supply disruptions related to floods in Thailand and weaker global demand. High-frequency indicators point to somewhat stronger growth. Manufacturing purchasing managers’ index indicators for advanced and emerging market economies have edged up in the most recent quarter. The disruptive effects on supply chains caused by the Thai floods appear to be receding, leading to stronger industrial production and trade in various Asian economies. In addition, reconstruction is continuing to boost output in Japan.

While the situation in high-income Europe is contained for the moment, if the crisis expands and markets deny financing to several additional European economies, outturns could be much worse, with global GDP more than 4 percent lower than in the baseline. Although such a crisis, should it occur, would be centered in Europe, developed countries (G-20) and developing countries, would feel its effects deeply. According to IMF estimation recently, global growth is projected to drop from about 4 percent in 2011 to about 3½ percent in 2012 because of weak activity during the second half of 2011 and the first half of 2012. High-income country growth is now expected to come in at 1.4 percent in 2012 and 2 percent in 2013. Developing country growth has been revised down to 5.4 and 6 percent. Based on these projections, it is also expected that D-8 economic growth would expand around 4.1% in 2012 and 5.3% in 2013.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
In this highly uncertain environment, all emerging markets in Asia, including D-8 countries, should evaluate their vulnerabilities and prepare contingencies to deal with a downturn and some challenges afterwards in order to start to explore which factors are necessary to ensure that national competitiveness remains sustainable over the longer term. Subsequently, D-8 Countries shall present their preliminary thoughts on understanding and measuring quality growth through a competitiveness lens by defining sustainable competitiveness in economic, social, and environmental terms. D-8 countries should engage in contingency planning, prioritizing social safety nets and infrastructure spending to assure longer-term growth. In financial sector and investment, D-8 countries should consider a renewed financial crisis which could accelerate the ongoing financial-sector deleveraging process.

In the meantime, a severe crisis in high-income countries could put pressure on the balance of payments and government accounts of countries heavily reliant on commodity exports. The solution to the current financial and macroeconomic crisis requires bold initiatives aimed at rescuing the financial sector and increasing domestic demand in D-8 countries. By implementing fiscal policy transmission channels, government spending on goods and services, taxes and transfers, the following features can help government reaching their designed objectives. These fiscal policies will restore aggregate demand to create job prospects higher and reduce unemployment, creating its own cycle of economic, social and political drives in D-8 countries. Key to this will be renewed growth in global trade, with the provision of trade finance a high priority.

The pressures stemmed from the global financial crisis had directly challenged D-8 to seek innovative ways to sustain their economies. Should conditions in high-income countries deteriorate and a second global crisis materializes, developing countries will find themselves operating with much less abundant capital, less vibrant trade opportunities and weaker financial support for both private and public activity. Under these conditions, prospects and growth rates that seemed relatively easy to achieve during the first decade of this millennium may become much more difficult to attain in the second, and vulnerabilities that remained hidden during the boom period may become visible and require policy action. All these dimensions need to be organized in a coherent agenda.

The main challenges of D-8 countries are distance among member countries, cohesiveness of their respective economic and financial policies, and the level of competitiveness on domestic demand. Within this line, D-8 countries need to seek out the best and tangible ways to optimize D-8 five priority areas as one unit vehicle to compete with global competitiveness, particularly with other international organizations, like ASEAN, OIC, ECO, and G-20.

In conclusion, D-8 needs to prepare mechanism for long-term sustainability economy by taking into notion the reflected current circumstances that have revealed important weaknesses in crisis, including the need for much greater international policy coordination that recognizes the collective character of the crisis and avoids beggar thy neighbor policies.

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