AMRO Family Photo.

Today marks the second anniversary of the transition of the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) from a company to an international organization. Blessed and humble to lead AMRO in the past year, I would like to share with you how the young organization evolved and contributed to regional economic and financial stability in the past year.

2017 marked 20 years after the Asian Financial Crisis (AFC), a landmark event in our region’s history that shook up conventional wisdom on how a financial crisis could start and spread, and offered long lasting lessons in crisis management. It propelled regional financial cooperation and led to the establishment of the CMIM and AMRO. While we continue to observe the long-term shift of the center of gravity of the global economy towards the south and the east,  protectionism, rapid ageing in Asia, the new technological revolution sweeping the global economy posed new challenges to our region in 2017.

Hence, as an organization born in response to the AFC and Global Financial Crisis, and tasked with the mission of contributing to the macroeconomic and financial stability of the region, 2017 was an extraordinary opportunity for us to learn from the past, overcome current challenges, and prepare for the future. Throughout the year, we launched several initiatives and made substantial progress in performing our three core functions, namely conducting macroeconomic surveillance, supporting the implementation of the regional financial arrangement (RFA) – the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM), and providing technical assistance to our members.

In 2017, we greatly enhanced our surveillance capabilities and capacity to conduct rigorous assessment of the risks and vulnerabilities facing the region, and to provide sound policy advice to our member authorities. During the year, we conducted 14 annual consultation visits to all members and published four Annual Consultation Reports for 2016 and four for 2017.

We have further enhanced our forward-looking analysis, risk assessment and policy recommendations in our Annual Consultation Reports as well as focus on selected issues pertaining to individual economies. These included the corporate debt issue in China, dollarization and monetary policy in Cambodia, fiscal stance in Indonesia, potential spillovers from US trade protectionism in Korea, and drivers of inflation in Myanmar.

As the region’s key surveillance organization, we also assess the economic outlook for the ASEAN+3 region by identifying and assessing risks and spillovers from outside the region, monitoring and assessing intra-regional linkages and spillovers, and assessing economies in the region using common analytical frameworks. In May, we launched the ASEAN+3 Regional Economic Outlook 2017, or the AREO 2017, with the theme “ASEAN+3 Region: 20 Years after the Asian Financial Crisis”. The successful launch was followed by roadshows held in China, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and the U.S.

In our support to the CMIM, we are always mindful of the rising expectations on the role of regional safety nets as an integral part of the Global Financial Safety Net (GFSN). In the past year, AMRO provided both technical and intellectual support to contribute to enhancing the operational readiness of the CMIM. We were also honored to represent East Asia in international fora to discuss the role of RFAs, the development of the global financial system, and collaboration among different layers of the GFSN.

Under the Technical Assistance program, we stepped up efforts to support member authorities to build and strengthen their macroeconomic surveillance capacities in a systematic way. In response to requests from members, AMRO started several projects, such as providing support in website development for the Ministry of Finance of Lao PDR, and supporting in the collection and analysis of real estate transaction data for the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Cambodia. We also held seminars and conferences, and provide training, secondment opportunities, and research programs for officials of member economies.

Building upon the success of the inaugural ASEAN+3 Financial Forum (ATFF) in 2016, AMRO continued this series of high-level policy discussions in December 2017 when the 2nd ATFF was held back to back with the ASEAN+3 Finance and Central Bank Deputies’ Meeting (AFCDM+3) in Asahikawa, Japan. With the theme “Adapting to a Changing World”, ASEAN+3 Deputies, AMRO’s experts, academics and high-level representatives of international financial institutions discussed the regional outlook and policy responses to address structural challenges, and developments in the international monetary system and the role of the CMIM/AMRO. We hope that those fruitful discussions would provide food for thoughts for policy makers in the region to deal with pressing regional issues and make the best of each economy’s comparative advantage while safeguarding regional financial stability. We were also thrilled to exchange views on how the CMIM could be further developed to complement the existing layers of the GFSN as well as how to strengthen the CMIM’s role in the region to meet the challenges ahead.

Building upon the fast and steady progress made in 2017, we are committed to stepping up our efforts across all functions to strengthen our comparative advantage of a regional organization with comprehensive regional knowledge and expertise.

2018 continues to be another busy and exciting year for AMRO. I hope you all will stay tuned and continue supporting us on our mission of securing macroeconomic and financial stability of the region.