Seminar: Building Capacity and Connectivity for the New Economy in East Asia

Date & Time: Wednesday,  May 1, 2019, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Location: Ballroom 2, Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa in Nadi, Fiji


A seminar on the theme “Building Capacity and Connectivity for the New Economy in East Asia” follows the launch of the ASEAN+3 Regional Economic Outlook (AREO) 2019. The seminar will focus on how East Asia, as one of the most dynamic emerging market regions in the world, can tackle multiple challenges related to strengthening their collective development capacity and cross-border connectivity. High-level speakers will discuss how the region can prepare itself to rise to the challenges of the “new economy,” sustain buoyant growth, and continue to embrace and benefit from globalization—at a time when protectionist tendencies in the trade and technology space are rising.

At the seminar, AMRO will present key findings of the thematic part in its flagship report, the ASEAN+3 Regional Economic Outlook (AREO) 2019, to set the context for the discussion. Prominent speakers and participants, who include ASEAN+3 policymakers and leaders of multilateral banks, will be invited to share their insights and exchange views from various perspectives. The seminar will provide an opportunity to understand better how the region can react to global economic trends and further strengthen regional cooperation.

The event will invite ASEAN+3 decision-makers, and will be open to other participants and media. Please go to the registration page to register for the event.

Time Activity
10:00 am – 10:30 am Registration
10:30 am – 10:35 am Opening Remarks by AMRO Director Junhong Chang
10:35 am – 10:50 am Presentation by AMRO Chief Economist How Ee Khor
10:35 am – 11:30 am Panel Discussion

Moderator:  AMRO Chief Economist Hoe Ee Khor


·         Francisco G. Dakila, Jr., Assistant Governor of the Monetary Policy Sub- Sector, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) – TBC

·         Marzunisham bin Omar, Assistant Governor, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM)

·        Dong-ik Lee, Director General, Investment Operations Department, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

·         Yasuyuki Sawada, Chief Economist, Asian Development Bank (ADB)

·         Chikahisa Sumi, Director, Office of Asia Pacific, International Monetary Fund (IMF)

11.30 am – 12.00pm Q&A


Hoe Ee Khor 

Dr. Khor oversees the work on macroeconomic and financial market surveillance of AMRO’s member economies. Prior to joining AMRO, Dr. Khor was Deputy Director of the Asia and Pacific Department (APD) at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He also served as Assistant Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) from 2001 to 2009.


Francisco G. Dakila, Jr. (TBC)

Francisco G. Dakila, Jr. is the Assistant Governor of the Monetary Policy Sub-Sector, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. He provides highly-technical advisory support on matters relating to the formulation, implementation and assessment of policies and programs in his areas of specialization, which include the monetary, external, real and financial sectors.

Prior to joining the BSP, he worked at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and at the Agricultural Credit Policy Council. He also previously taught at the University of the Philippines School of Economics and at the De La Salle University in Manila. Dr. Dakila received his Ph. D. and MA in Economics and B.S. in Economics (magna cum laude) from the University of the Philippines-School of Economics.

Marzunisham bin Omar

Marzunisham Omar is the Assistant Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia responsible for economics and monetary policy, as well as overseeing international relations. Marzunisham is a member of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee, Management Committee and Reserve Management Committee with 25 years’ experience in economic and monetary policy formulation, financial sector regulation and development, and financial inclusion.

Marzunisham served as an Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), representing countries in the South East Asia Constituency. As a member of the Executive Board, Marzunisham played a part in key decisions of IMF activities, including surveillance, policy advice, technical assistance and lending programmes. Marzunisham holds a BA and MA in Economics from Cambridge University.

Dong-ik Lee

Dong-ik Lee is the Director General at the Investment Operations Department of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Before joining AIIB, he was Corporate Advisor for Temasek, Singapore. From 2008 – 2013, he worked for Korea Investment Corporation as Chief Investment Officer and Head of Alternative Investments. Mr Lee has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Korea University, an MBA in Finance and Investments and a Master’s degree in Management Information Systems from George Washington University.

Yasuyuki Sawada

Mr. Sawada is the chief spokesperson for ADB on economic and development trends, and leads the Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department (ERCD), which publishes ADB’s flagship knowledge products. His research interests include macro- and micro-development economics, microeconometrics, economics of disasters, and field surveys and experiments. He possesses rich experience in policy-oriented research with various universities and institutions – including Crawford School of Public Policy, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Research Institute, and the World Bank.

Chikahisa Sumi

Chikahisa Sumi was appointed Director of Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, International Monetary Fund in 2016. He has worked on Asia and the Pacific counties for seven years in the IMF, also headed the Financial Sector Surveillance Group of the Asia and Pacific Department, and led the Future of Asia’s Finance project. Before IMF, he held key positions in the Japanese Government, including Deputy Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs, and Deputy Commissioner of Financial Services Agency.

Opening Remarks by AMRO Director Dr Junhong Chang

“Building Capacity and Connectivity for the New Economy in East Asia” Seminar
Nadi, Fiji
1 May 2019

(As prepared for delivery)

Distinguished guests, panellists, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen

1. Good morning. I am honoured to address this gathering of high-level policymakers, subject matter experts, and many colleagues from the region. AMRO organizes several such seminars every year, to solicit thoughts and views on key long-term issues facing our region.

2. ASEAN+3 economies have come a long way since the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. The members collectively have transformed from being a crisis-shaken region in the late 1990s to one which came through the Global Financial Crisis in the late 2000s relatively unscathed, and is now positioning itself for sustained strong growth in the years ahead. Thanks to sound macroeconomic policies, the region has enjoyed almost uninterrupted rapid development and growth convergence over the past two decades, with many ASEAN+3 economies now looking towards achieving high-income or upper-middle income status in the near future.

3. However the region is still confronted with daunting medium- and long-term structural challenges, which if not addressed decisively, will impinge on potential growth and prosperity. What are some of these?

  • First, productivity. As many of us are aware, the ASEAN+3 region’s impressive growth catch-up over the past few decades belies a marked slowdown in total factor productivity gains across most countries in the region. While total-factor productivity accounted for about 1.5 percentage points of the approximately 7.0 percent annual growth for the region between 2002 and 2007, its contribution dropped sharply in the 2011 to 2017 period. This trend has to be addressed urgently – at a time when the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the New Economy are transforming the workplace and changing the technological and skill intensity of products.
  • Second, investments. For many economies in the region, investments collapsed after the Asian Financial Crisis, from the high 30 percent range (relative to GDP) to the mid 20 percent range, reflecting the need to build up fiscal buffers and foreign exchange reserves. Despite some signs of pick-up in more recent years, investments remain well below what is needed to fulfil growth potential. Infrastructure is one good example, where it is clear that the investment shortfalls have led to an infrastructure gap and undermined the capacity for growth.
  • Third, regional financial architecture. As quite a few ASEAN+3 economies’ recent experiences attest to, even well-run economies with solid fundamentals can face heightened stresses from financial market turbulence. Today’s globalized financial markets are characterized by volatile capital flows. So the question is what we can do as a region to improve the resilience of developing economies to volatility shocks. A big part of this surely must be about developing and strengthening the regional financial architecture. In particular, it means developing and deepening our capital markets to recycle the ample savings within the region, and strengthening the regional financial safety net.

4. This then is the context in which we have set the theme for this year’s seminar, which is also the thematic chapter of our flagship report, the ASEAN+3 Regional Economic Outlook 2019. The theme is very much in the spirit of how in the past two years, we at AMRO have put in considerable effort to analyse the nature of medium- and long-term structural challenges facing ASEAN+3 economies at different stages of development, and put forward suggestions on how to address these challenges.

5. While the theme of building capacity and connectivity can be said to be evergreen, especially for emerging countries, the key challenge at this juncture is that ASEAN+3 economies need to transition to the “New Economy.” This adds urgency to the task of addressing the structural constraints facing the region. We therefore ask: to move progressively beyond the “manufacturing for exports” strategy to embrace the new technological revolution and the services sector, what are the types of capacity and connectivity needed for the region to grow and thrive? What could impede our region’s efforts in this regard? What can policymakers do to get on top of the challenges?

6. In the panel session which will begin shortly, we can look forward to hearing from a very strong line-up of policymakers, subject matter experts, and those of us working on regional cooperation to reflect and share views. I very much look forward to a lively and illuminating discussion.

Thank you very much.

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