Via IMF (Den Internationale Valutafond)

Transcript of Press Briefing on the October 2020 Asia Pacific Regional Economic Outlook







October 21, 2020
















 

Speakers:

Jonathan D. Ostry, Acting Director, Asia and Pacific Department

Keiko Utsunomiya, Senior Communications Officer

 

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the press briefing on the
October 2020 Asian and Pacific Regional Economic outlook. I am Keiko
Utsunomiya from the Communications Department. Thank you for taking your
time to join us today.

We have received some questions in advance, but please send your questions
in writing if you are on the IMF Press Center. And this time, we are also
taking your questions via video, or audio. So please raise your hand or
send your questions in a short message using the chat function if you are
on the Webex.

Now, let me introduce today’s speaker. I am here with Mr. Jonathan Ostry,
Acting Director of the Asia and Pacific Department. He will give a short
opening remarks before we take questions from you.

Jonathan?

MR. OSTRY: Thank you, Keiko. So warm greetings from Washington and good
evening to you in Asia. It is a pleasure to be with you and to give you
some of the highlights of the IMF’s regional economic outlook for
Asia-Pacific.

The Asia-Pacific region has been hit hard by the pandemic. You’ve seen our
projections with regional growth at -2.2 percent, 2020 will be remembered
as the most severe contraction in generations. Asia is not alone in
suffering a huge contraction. The world is in this crisis together and we
will only emerge from it together. This is as true of the health crisis, as
it is for the economic crisis. But Asia is at a different stage from the
rest of the world. The region went into this crisis first, and it already
can offer some valuable lessons for the world. Three lessons stand out.

First, an early public health response, when infection rates are still low,
seems to be an essential stepping-stone to flattening the virus curve.

Second, relaxing containment measure only after the virus has been
suppressed—and with appropriate complimentary policies such as broad
testing and contact racing capacity—seems to be associated with better
economic outcomes. On both counts, Asia has done well in comparison with
other regions, probably due to its experience from previous pandemics.

Third, fiscal support has also been critical to reduce economic costs and
underpin the recovery. Here, Asia has pulled its weight—with Asia’s share
of announced stimulus broadly in line with Asia’s weight in the global
economy.

But more hard work lies ahead. Let me stress four challenges that must be
confronted. First, Asia’s labor markets have been hit hard. Especially so
for female and younger workers. Inequality in Asia had been rising even
before the crisis, and the pandemic is hitting those at the bottom even
harder than the rest. The limited reach of social safety nets and large
size of informal sectors is proving to be a roadblock to supporting the
most vulnerable at this critical time. Robotization, which is already well
advanced in Asia, may displace even more lower skilled workers going
forward. The resulting higher levels of inequality could even lead to
social unrest—itself, an obvious impediment to sustained economic growth.

Second, geopolitical trade and technology tensions are threatening Asia’s
export driven growth model. Further decoupling across global technology
hubs would have serious implications for the region’s growth potential
going forward.

Third, Asia’s corporate and household sector entered the crisis with too
much leverage on their balance sheets and the crisis is amplifying this
vulnerability. And fourth, public debt burdens are also a concern for a
number of emerging markets and low-income countries in the region.

These challenges are important drivers of the downgrade to our forecast.
New information since our midyear update include second quarter national
accounts in the region’s economies. Most notable among these data, is a
much sharper contraction in India, whose economy shrank by an unprecedented
24 percent year-on-year in the second quarter, and where we now project a
contraction of 10.3 percent this fiscal year.

China, which suffered the blow from the pandemic earlier than other
countries has seen a very strong recovery since the first quarter lockdown,
and growth has now been revised up to 1.9 percent this year, a rare
positive figure in a sea of negatives.

For 2021, out projection of 6.9 percent growth is slightly stronger than we
had in June. But in combination with the deep recessions this year, it
nevertheless implies that a number of economies will still be smaller in
the end of 2021, than before the pandemic. Generally speaking, our
projections assume that domestic demand remains subdued given continued
social distancing and containment measures, weak tourism, and a rather
lackluster recovery by historical standards in global trade.

Economic scarring seems a near certainty at this point. Our projections
suggest that potential output by the middle of this decade could be some 5
percent lower than before the pandemic, due to the fall in labor force
participation and weak confidence that dims private investment.

So how then can Asia confront these challenges? Foremost, policy makers
must not lose sight of the fact that this health crisis is far from over.
Job one is therefore to sustain strong health policies until the pandemic
is well under control. Countries need to plan now to secure and distribute
vaccine supplies quickly, as they become available. And in some cases, with
multilateral support.

Beyond managing the health crisis, I would emphasize five messages for
economic policy. First, because the recovery is far from entrenched,
macroeconomic policy support should not be withdrawn prematurely. Both
fiscal and monetary policy need to play their part. Second, greater efforts
to better target fiscal support to protect the most vulnerable; youth,
women, and informal workers who have taken the biggest hit, is essential.
Targeted support provides bigger bang for the buck, both protecting lives
and livelihoods. This is important because to varying degrees, fiscal space
is scarce everywhere and rising inequality could yet turn acute. Third,
vigilance against emerging credit risks from corporates and households
remains essential given potential impacts on financial institutions,
particularly if downside risks growths materialize.

Fourth, unsustainable public debt should be addressed proactively as the
message from history is that delays in dealing with this problem, only grow
with time. And fifth, structural economic policies need to be geared to the
world of tomorrow, not the world of yesterday. This means facilitating
corporate restructuring and resource allocation, including to sectors who
will pay the way for stronger, medium run, inclusive, green growth.

Thank you, and I look forward to the questions.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Thank you, Jonathan. I would like to go straight to Webex,
Ms. Leika Kihara, from Reuters Japan. She has some questions about
the region as a whole. Leika? Go ahead, please.

QUESTIONER: I have a question about China and its impact on Asia. So, as
you’ve mentioned, China has recovered faster from the pandemic’s pain than
the rest of the world. How much boost would China’s rebound give to Asian
economies, and what are the key risks, besides the pandemic, that could
weigh on Asian economies next year?

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Okay, sorry, Jonathan, I have a very similar, I believe,
related questions from Mr. Anthony Rowley, South China Morning Post, and I
see him on Webex, as well. So, could we take his question before your
answer? Anthony, are you there? Please, go ahead.

QUESTIONER: Okay, well, it’s a very broad question, but, obviously, the
Chinese economy, at the moment, is doing relatively well, and back in the
Global Financial Crisis, in 2008, China acted as a dynamo, really, for the
regional economy, indeed, for the global economy. So, if this situation
continues for, any length of time, presumably time is importance as a
dynamo of growth, is going to become more and more apparent, and I wonder
what impact that is going to have on China’s wider economic role in Asia.
In other words, you know, will China become even more important as trade
pulls and investment pull than it is at the moment, and, likewise, the
United States become progressively less important, economically?

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MR. OSTRY: Very good. So, thank you for those broad questions, related to
China and the region. Let me start by delineating two separate issues, I
think. One is what China’s role is, near-term, and then more the risks for
the region and China’s role within it, beyond the near-term.

So, as both questioners sort of point out, China has recovered first. It’s
a very large economy, both globally and for the region, and because it
experienced the pandemic first, and dealt with the pandemic vigorously,
quite early, the trough in economic activity for China, its ability to
reopen occurred much earlier than for other countries in the region and
globally. So, this has meant that the recovery, and we’ve now seen two
quarters, the second and third quarter of 2020, with very impressive growth
from China, which naturally, given its role in the region, is having
positive spillovers for the region, and for commodity prices, and for,
broadly, participants in the global value chains, that China is a big part
of.

A lot of the exports of China, however, are very specifically related to
medical equipment and home electronics, the things that are really being
used by the world, as a whole, during the pandemic. And, you know, the
health life of these exports is probably pretty short. These — the demand
for lots of medical equipment and lots of home electronics will,
eventually, peter out, and so, we will move to a different phase.

China, itself, is kind of midstream in a process of its own rebalancing,
and it has multiple facets. It’s a rebalancing from more export and
investment led growth to a bigger role for consumption. It’s a rebalancing
from a large role of state enterprises in the economy to one where private
demand is going to be a big — have a big role in promoting and sustaining
growth. And, indeed, our projections for China, beyond the near-term,
assume a smooth handover from publicly generated growth to private demand.

We have seen some broadening of growth in the third quarter. In the second
quarter, investment was taking a center stage and public fiscal policy was
also having a big role, and we’ve seen consumption, while still lagging
behind, beginning to show that it is starting to grow in the third quarter,
and that is a very welcome sign, including even in some contact intensive
service sectors, which is very good.

Now, in terms of the regional aspect of all this, there are a lot of things
going on, in the background, that will shape China’s role in the region,
going forward and over the medium-term.

Our WEO discusses the role of trade and technology tensions. It discusses
the role debt overhangs, very stretched balance sheets of corporate and
household sectors, and all of these factors are going to shape global value
chains, as countries in the region adapt their global — their growth
models to a new environment, and so, there is a lot of uncertainty about
China’s role in the region, and how global value chains will be
reconfigured, going forward. So, I’m afraid it’s a little too soon to
prognosticate about what — where the region will settle on China and its
role in global value chains, in regional value chains, supply chains, a
couple years from now.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Next, turn to a question on Japan. This is from Masaki
Kondo, Jiji Press. How different would Japan’s economic outlook be, if the
Olympic would not be held in 2021, or significantly scaled back in its
scope and size? And, also, he has a question of labor policies. How should
Japan go about policies to increase incomes?

MR. OSTRY: Very good. Thank you for those, those two questions on Japan.
Since the first one is on the Olympics, which is an event that brings all
the countries of the world together, let me also take this opportunity to
welcome Japan’s commitment to multilateralism, its engagement in
multilateral efforts to promote rules-based international trade, its recent
agreements with the European Union and the United Kingdom, and its
tremendous support for the low-income countries, highly indebted countries,
through the PRGT and CCRT Trusts at the Fund, and its support for capacity
development in the face of the evolving needs of many countries during this
pandemic. So, this is really a very welcome example to the world.

On the Olympics, per se, let me, first of all, say that, you know, Japan
has addressed the pandemic in a very effective way, but it is not a way
that has been pursued by many other countries. It has been extremely
effective in Japan, and it hasn’t been based on hard lockdowns, hard
nationwide lockdowns, as has been the case in some other countries, and it
goes to show that different countries can choose different paths to
flattening the virus curve, and so, this is yet another example of
effective health policy.

On the Olympics, the infrastructure has largely been completed, and that
would be a big channel through which the Olympics is affecting Japan’s
growth, and so, that is really in the rearview mirror, rather than going
forward. So, a key channel would be tourism inflows, if the Olympics were
to be delayed, and I think, in the grand scheme of things, there would be
an effect, but it is likely to be quantitatively small, in terms of the
aggregate headline GDP numbers.

It’s an excellent question on incomes policy, on how to raise incomes in
Japan. This has two facets. There is the immediate issue of supporting
incomes of the most vulnerable, during this very difficult time, when those
at the bottom are suffering the most, in terms of lost income
opportunities, and I think Japan’s measures, early in the crisis, have been
very effective, and they need to be sustained until people can return to
work and the economy is more advanced in its recovery, which the very
proactive health policy has laid a clear foundation for, but, beyond that,
there is the perennial and long-standing issue of generating more favorable
wage and price dynamics in Japan, and continued vigorous action, by the
Bank of Japan, to underpin positive increases in the general level of
prices, and having more favorable dynamics between prices and wages,
perhaps supported by incomes policies that could, rather than keep wage
growth help to support wage growth would be something, and other policies
like minimum wages and administered wages. All of these things could be
thrown into the mix to support incomes going forward.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: I would like to go to Mr. Takeshi Kawanami or Nikkei. He
has a question on Vietnam. Are you there? Mr. Kawanami, please. He has sent
a question online, let me read the question myself.

Vietnam has kept economic growth this year in the pandemic. What’s the key
point to sustain a strong economy?

MR. OSTRY: Thank you. That is a question that is important for Vietnam, but
I think there’s also broader lessons for the world. We’ve spoken about
China which is, as I said in my opening remarks, a rare positive in a sea
of otherwise negative growth numbers for this year. But I’ll take the
opportunity of this question on Vietnam to point to another positive, a
very welcome one at that, and one where we see actually upside risks given
recent data, including for the third quarter.

The way I would summarize the lessons from Vietnam is really taking the
pandemic extraordinarily seriously very, very early on. Right at the top of
the year taking very bold steps to contain the virus, to earn the trust
which I think has been earned of its Vietnam citizens with media campaigns
and so forth, and a broad range of containment measures which had been
extraordinarily effective. And effective also through time so that when
many months later, the virus reemerged in some parts of Vietnam like Danang
and elsewhere, the authorities were, again, incredibly prepared and
proactive in taking the appropriate containment measures which ran the
gambit of locking down certain areas, tracing, testing, quarantines, and so
forth. So, this is a country that really took this extraordinarily
seriously, was very proactive, and thus, very effective.

The benefit was not only in a tremendous health response and results on the
ground in terms of the health of Vietnamese, but also that it could reopen
its economy rather earlier than most. Just like in this respect like China.
The benefits are clear in that Vietnam has enjoyed a faster rebound and
what seems to be a more robust rebound than many. Vietnam has a strong role
in trade, including of products like electronics, like pharmaceuticals that
are in high demand in this period, and, of course, has taken full advantage
of that.

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Its policies, including support for the most vulnerable, have been
proactive, and, again, very effective even within its limited means. So,
the recipe and the lesson from Vietnam is that the pandemic needs to be
taken very seriously, proactively, early, and that is what lays a firm
foundation for recovery, in addition to supporting policies from fiscal,
and infrastructure, and so forth. I’ll leave it at that.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Thank you, Jonathan. I want to stay in Southeast Asia. I
see Mr. May Kunmakara from Phnom Penh Post.

QUESTIONER: Yes, thank you very much. I have a few questions regarding the
Cambodian economy because right now I would say that there is no vaccine
available for coronavirus, and we know that most of the emerging economies
like Cambodia mainly relying on the exports and the influence of the
tourism sectors. What does the IMF evaluate the impact of the coronavirus
to the emerging economy like Cambodia? And what are the policy responses
that the IMF can recommend to the governments? And on October 15, the IMF
revised the projection of Cambodia to minus 2.8 from the previous
projections. It is a bit better than before, and it will be rebound to 5.6
percent next year. Can you share with me what are the key elements over the
revision, and what are the key sectors that you think should be rebound?
Thank you very much.

MR. OSTRY: Thank you very much for that question. So, for Cambodia, I
think, you know, some of the factors that have affected our projections are
the collapse in tourism which, obviously, affected Cambodia’s economy
significantly, and the impact on its non-tourist exports, of garments, for
example. Since our previous update, there were numerous order
cancellations, and, you know, these are both tourist and goods exports I
think lie behind the weaker outlook.

In terms of the policy imperatives, I think, again, what we have advised is
a careful prioritization of expenditure to make sure that fiscal resources
reach those who are most vulnerable, those at the bottom of the income
scale, those in the informal sectors and so forth whose employment
opportunities may have been hit really badly. With the sort of baseline
recovery in global demand for some of Cambodia’s main exports like
garments, and some recovery in tourism, it should be possible for the
recovery that we envisage for 2021 to materialize.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: I believe Mr. Kamal Ben Arnold de Vera on Webex has related
South East Asia question. Mr. de Vera, are you there?

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Okay. We have some audio problems. Let’s move on and, if
possible, we will come back to you Mr. de Vera.

Next, I would like to read a question we received online. Ms. Heather Scott
from AFP is asking about the potential for rising social unrest in
Asia. A region where we have already seen a lot of unrest in recent years.
Are governments doing enough to head off what could be an explosive
situation? And, how long will it take a country like India to reverse the
surge in poverty that undermined many years of progress?

MR. OSTRY: Well, thank you for that. And I hope we come back to the
question, if possible. But let me take this broader question for — on poverty and so forth, and
social unrest.

Indeed, we’ve all seen the very disturbing headlines about how this
pandemic is likely to push very large numbers of people into extreme
poverty, and reverse gains achieved over many years in reducing extreme
poverty in the world. And indeed, it is quite likely that many of these
additions to the extreme poverty group will be in South Asia. And it is a
very disturbing scenario.

There is a part of Heather’s question when she asks about how long will it
take for this devastating increase in extreme poverty to be unwound? And
there is a sense that perhaps once we get back on a growth path in Asia and
South Asia, we can assume that the increase in poverty will be reduced or
reversed. And to be sure, a pickup in growth will help, but it will not be
sufficient to really address the issue of rising extreme poverty. And that
is why we have consistently stressed during this pandemic, that countries
need to be very proactive in using their scarce fiscal resources to reach
those who are in danger of falling into this group of extremely poor.

The time is not — there cannot be a delay in this and really, this is an
urgent problem, and it is a problem that you know, has to be seen against
the background of a rising inequality in the Asian region which long
predates this pandemic. And the reason that that is important is because
you know, there is likely to be some point beyond which further increases
in inequality may well undercut, seriously undercut sustainable growth,
including by leading to social unrest, as Heather’s questions suggested. We
have to be humble about exactly what this threshold is but in the regional
economic outlook, we have some analysis of this which suggests that a
number of countries in the region might have preexisting levels of
inequality that would generate some concern.

Let me just finally close by saying that these trends are not the destiny
of countries. There is a lot that countries can do and should be doing in
targeting their fiscal support to those at the bottom. And taking steps
really through social programs to reverse and mitigate these very
unwelcomed trends that we have been seeing.

Thank you.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Thank you. Staying in South Asia, I want to take a question
from Nepal, Mr. Sagar Ghimire, Republica, the Fund has projected
2.5 percent growth in the current Fiscal Year for Nepal after the growth
falling flat in 2020. As coronavirus cases are on the rising trend, how
severe economic fallout could be? And what recommendations do you have for
the Nepali government to manage its finance?

Also, the second quick question, Nepal is one of the remittances receiving
countries. How much remittances could be hit due to impacts of coronavirus
in international labor markets?

MR. OSTRY: Very good. So, you know, the data on Nepal in our
projections are based on the financial yea, the Fiscal Year, and
obviously, the pandemic has straggled two fiscal years and the numbers
that were in the question really show the impact of the pandemic across
these two years. It’s worth noting, as the questioner does, that the
cases are still rising in Nepal and to that degree, I would say that
there are some downside risks associated with the health side.

On the role of policy, it has to as elsewhere, be firmly dedicated to
flattening the virus curve, to making sure that the health of Nepalese are
protected, and the health risks of the population are contained. And that
again, very targeted, proactive approach to redress those who are suffering
the most. Those at the bottom are the order of the day.

On remittances, these have been reasonably volatile recently and the future
for remittances I think will depend a lot on the source countries including
India, Malaysia, and the GCC countries so, I think what we will see for
remittances into Nepal will depend a lot on the growth outlook in where the
Nepalese are working abroad.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: One more question from Bangladesh, South Asia. I see Mr.
Kamal Sahriar, at Somoy TV. If you are online, please go ahead.

QUESTIONER: Hello? Are you hearing me?

MR. OSTRY: Yes. Please go ahead.

QUESTIONER: We’re feeling initially our outlook said that Bangladesh is
said to, to working in India in (inaudible) per capita. A global realistic
moment we are between 2019 and into under one year, but I want you to know
that if Bangladesh wanted to continue in this forecast, what should it have
to do with Bangladesh government? And what is the challenges of this
country to getting better economics?

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MS. UTSUNOMIYA: So, if I understood you, sorry, the sound is very faint. If
I heard you correctly, your question is if Bangladesh wants to keep the GDP
progress, what should the government have to do? And what challenges for
this country for getting a better economy?

QUESTIONER: Yeah, yeah, good, that was my question.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Okay, thank you.

MR. OSTRY: So, thank you, for that question. I would say that the advice
for Bangladesh is fairly similar to the advice we give you know, to many
developing countries, which is first and foremost to contend with the
pandemic and make sure that the containment efforts are yielding the
desired results. Protect the most vulnerable and use a scarce fiscal
resources to target those most affected by the pandemic.

Beyond the short term, sustained increases in per capita incomes, to which
you referred at the beginning, will need to be underpinned by supply-side
policies including policies to make the economy more efficient through a
favorable business climate, through further opening to trade and direct
investment. The kinds of policies that we believe are ones that portend a
you know, a sustained increase in the efficiency and productivity of the
economy for the medium term.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Okay, let me turn to the Pacific. We have received a
question from Mr. Anish Chand, Fiji Times.

The question is how is Fiji showing signs of a recovery? In which areas,
and at what speed? Do you agree with the view that Fiji’s reliance on
tourism has been the sole factor that COVID-19 has hugely impacted in its
economy?

MR. OSTRY: Thank you for that question. So, Fiji is one of the countries
that has been hit hardest, in the Asia-Pacific Region, by the pandemic, and
it’s — and the fallout from the pandemic. That is not because of, you
know, large numbers of cases and an out of control virus in Fiji, itself.
It is, really, because of the dependence of Fiji’s economy, like so many
Pacific Islands and some of the ASEAN countries, on tourism, which has
basically ground to a halt, since March, and, indeed, tourism is a marker,
I think, in the Asia-Pacific Region, that significantly affects the Pacific
Islands and some of the ASEAN countries, and really is hitting their
economies very hard.

If we are honest, we do not know, precisely, when and how tourism will
recover, but we have assumed that there will be some recovery in tourism,
next year.

The other thing that has affected Fiji, specifically, are its other
exports, non-tourist exports, and, there, the slowing of the global economy
and demand for those products, I think, is having a further negative impact
on Fiji, as on others, and we would expect a recovery in those — in the
demand for those products, like sugar and others, to follow the path that
the global economy, as a whole, follows. But the Pacific Islands, as a
group, speaking not just of Fiji but more broadly, face very steep
challenges, going forward. They have a record of rather lower chronic —
chronically low — lower growth than many emerging and developing
countries, and it is likely — and this likely reflects their lack of
diversification, their limited capacity, their remoteness, and so forth,
but it has an implication for the speed with which they are likely to
recover, following the pandemic, and our sense is that it may be a longer
ascent, for these countries, than we might see in other places, and this is
something, obviously, that the Fund is very much engaged in, with the
Authorities, especially given the financial challenges that it may pose, in
terms of the balance sheets of corporates and the public sector.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Okay. We are almost running out of time. I want to go back
to Mr. de Vera, if you are online, and then, if I may, have Ms. Weier Ge
after Mr. de Vera. Mr. de Vera, are you there?

QUESTIONER: I believe — yes, good evening, I am here, from Manila. I have
this question: in the Philippines, India, and Indonesia, which are still
struggling with elevated COVID-19 cases, but, of course, they wanted to get
over their pandemic-induced economic slump. By this time, should their
response tilt more towards health, or containing the virus once and for
all, or economic recovery, to preserve jobs and to prevent more people from
sliding back, poverty? As the report noted, these three countries gradually
eased lockdowns to prevent bigger economic losses, despite the containment
of COVID-19, but then the prevailing high number of infections continued to
— back business and consumer confidence, in general. Now, they often say
that it should be a balancing act, you know, health and the economy, but,
in reality, is it really doable? Thank you.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Thank you. And, Ms. Gu, you have a supply chain question?
Go ahead, please.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Yes, just to follow up on the global and regional
supply chains, as you mentioned about China’s economic rebound, we all know
that China’s economy grew 0.7 percent, from a year ago, in the first three
quarters. In the meantime, Europe and the U.S. are still dealing with this
potential second wave. So, I’m just wondering how the pandemic is or will
reshape the global and regional supply chains, and, also, how the weakness
in the Dollars, or even there is discussion about a Dollar crash, in the
year of 2021, will it impact the regional economy? Thank you.

MR. OSTRY: Okay. Shall I?

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Yes.

MR. OSTRY: So, let me go back to the question about countries that are —
still have not flattened the virus curve, well, that are still struggling
with a health crisis that is not fully under control, and whether there’s
really a tradeoff between an economic recovery and dealing with the health
crisis. To be sure, different countries will approach this differently, and
we’ve seen a variety of different approaches across the Asia-Pacific
Region, but I would conclude that there is no solid firm foundation for
economic recovery, in the midst of an uncontrolled pandemic. So, it is a
prerequisite for a firm economic recovery, that the virus curve be
flattened, and even early successes in this respect need — there needs to
be ongoing vigilance because, as we know, this is a marathon and not a
sprint, and the virus rears its ugly head from time to time, when we do not
expect it, and health policy needs to be very vigilant and proactive.

On the question on the reconfiguration of supply chains, what I wanted to
say, and let me clarify it further, is simply that this is a time of
maximum uncertainty. In such a time, you know, investors who need to make
decisions about where to locate production are — people are holding back,
and that is why private investment is so weak, and until a lot of this
uncertainty is resolved, and that includes not just the pandemic, but very
fundamental areas to do with trade, geopolitics, technology, all of these
things, we have a lot of uncertainty in those areas, we know that the
global economy and Asia, specifically, will benefit to — from
multilaterally-based solutions, rules-based solutions, that are owned by
all the key players in the world, and we are not there yet. We need to get
there because getting there, getting to those multilateral rules-based
solutions, owned by all, is really a prerequisite for getting over this
extreme uncertainty that is holding back investment and productive
sustained prosperity.

MS. UTSUNOMIYA: Okay. This will conclude our press briefing today. I’m so
sorry that we could not take all your questions. I trust all of you have
access to the Regional Economic Outlook, on the IMF website. Jonathan’s
blog is posted there, too. So, please, take a look. The transcript of this
briefing and the video recording will be made available shortly. Again,
thank you very much for joining us today. Stay safe and see you next time.


IMF Communications Department
MEDIA RELATIONS

PRESS OFFICER: Keiko Utsunomiya

Phone: +1 202 623-7100Email: MEDIA@IMF.org

@IMFSpokesperson