Sea row must not destabilize Asia - ADB

By Pia Lee-Brago, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 01 2013 09:32 AM | Updated as of Jan 02 2013 04:09 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Asia’s leaders must not allow diplomatic distractions, including territorial disputes, to destabilize further an already uncertain economic and geopolitical environment, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In the article “Asia faces hard road ahead” published yesterday in state-owned Chinese news agency China Daily, Haruhiko Kuroda, ADB president, and Changyong Rhee, ADB chief economist, said 2013 will present significant challenges and new responsibilities – political, economic, and social – for developing Asia as the path to sustainable, inclusive economic growth will be difficult.

Kuroda and Rhee said fiscal prudence in Asia allowed the stimulus measures needed to revive global economic growth in 2010.

However, the economic transformation over the last several decades has reached a crossroads, they added.

Kuroda and Rhee said Asia needs to adjust to a new era of more moderate growth, while addressing widespread inequality and improving sustainability.

The unprecedented economic expansion that has lifted millions out of poverty has been accompanied by widening income disparities, as well as serious environmental damage, they added.

Kuroda and Rhee said the key challenge facing Asia today is to sustain economic growth at lower but still enviable rates.

Asia needs strong, inclusive, green, knowledge-led growth, which implies the need to rebalance the sources of economic dynamism to emphasize domestic, regional, and inter-regional “South-South” demand, they added.

Kuroda and Rhee said Asia’s leaders must not allow diplomatic distractions, including territorial disputes, to destabilize an already uncertain economic and geopolitical environment.

“Given current global economic uncertainties, there is no room for this kind of disruption,” they said. Continued geopolitical volatility will delay, if not obstruct, the emergence of a new, world-class Asia.

Kuroda and Rhee said Asian leaders ascending to power in 2013 like in China, Japan, and South Korea must prioritize enhanced regional economic and political cooperation.

“Such relationships will be all the more crucial if global economic conditions deteriorate,” they said. Political disputes must not be allowed to hinder the adjustments needed to ensure long-term sustainable development.