Prominent former senior government officials and leading academics are callingfor Asian nations to work together in order to ensure the global economybounces back from COVID-19.

The group, which includes former advisers to the governments of China, Japan,Indonesia, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia and think tankleaders, is calling on nations from the region to coordinate financial, trade,public health and food security policies in the wake of the coronavirus.

The Asian strategy for recovery and reconstruction after COVID-19 is co-authored by Professor Peter Drysdale from The Australian National University’sAsian Bureau of Economic Research and architect of APEC.

“This plan brings together a powerful group of former senior officials andprominent academics to help steer the global economy to recovery after thesavage impact of COVID-19,” Professor Drysdale said. “And the key to successis cooperation among Asian nations.

“We are calling for ASEAN to convene a regional leaders conference that wouldalso include ASEAN +6 dialogue partners, including Australia, India and China.

“This meeting would move rapidly on six key objectives, among them expandedbilateral currency swap arrangements to strengthen regional safety nets; thedevelopment, production and equitable distribution of diagnostic tests, avaccine and treatments across Asia; and keeping medical and food markets open.

“The proposal aims to avoid the danger of the region’s individual nationsacting in narrow self-interest with the almost certain unintended consequenceof a deeper and prolonged economic downturn.

“Equally important is developing a regional and multilateral framework withinwhich China will be welcome to contribute rather than let Beijing work alone.”

Other immediate actions in the plan include agreeing to protocols for themovement of people to help restart international travel and commerce, theconclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and expandingthe digital transformation of health management inspired by COVID.

According to Professor Drysdale, Asian economies, which were set to overtakethe rest of the world’s total combined GDP this year, are crucial to ensuringthe global economy successfully navigates the crisis. He says if Asiancountries coordinate their response to the coronavirus they would alsoinfluence responses by the US and Europe.

“Without international cooperation and coordination, the world is facing aprolonged health crisis and lasting economic stagnation on a scale not seensince the Great Depression,” Professor Drysdale said.

“Asian economies will be central to global economic recovery from the COVID-19crisis.

“We must seize the opportunity the virus has provided to secure cooperation,economic development and strengthening of common ties in Asia. This will begood for Asia, good for Australia and good for the world.”

The Australian contributors to the plan are also calling for the MorrisonGovernment to join the regional leaders conference.

“It’s essential for Australia to join the leaders conference and be seenactively cooperating with ASEAN and its key neighbours such as Japan, India,South Korea and China to meet the health and economic challenge posed by thevirus,” Professor Drysdale said.

“The Morrison Government’s success in dealing with the virus at home will, inthe eyes of the many former officials supporting the call for action, give itsignificant influence within the grouping.”

Contributors to the plan include former Indonesian finance minister ChatibBasri, former member of China’s central bank committee Yiping Huang, executivedirector of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation secretariat Rebecca StaMaria, and secretary of the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation andScience Heather Smith.

The Asian strategy for recovery and reconstruction after COVID-19 is availableonline.

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