Coronavirus Fallout

Take steps to tackle emergency

ESCAP urges Asia-Pacific countries

Staff Correspondent

9 April, 2020 12:00 AM printer

The Covid-19 widely known as novel coronavirus pandemic is having far-reaching economic and social consequences for the Asia-Pacific region, with strong cross-border spillover effects through trade, tourism and financial linkages, said the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) released a new report on Wednesday, said a press release

The Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2020 highlights the virus as the immediate risk to the region’s economic outlook, deepening the economic slowdown that was already underway.

It said although there are significant uncertainties surrounding the pandemic, the negative impacts are likely to be substantial.

As governments respond to the unprecedented health crisis and introduce economic stimulus packages, the report estimates that Asia-Pacific developing countries should increase health emergency spending by $880 million per year.

Besides, ESCAP also urged the Asia-Pacific countries to consider establishing a regional fund to respond the upcoming health emergencies and also suggested policymakers to maintain accommodative macroeconomic policies to sustain the economic health of the region.

It also said that fiscal and monetary policies should be focused on supporting affected enterprises and households and preventing economic contagion.

At the same time, countries should take the opportunity posed by these challenging times to rethink their economic development strategies towards a more inclusive, sustainable and planet-friendly economy.

“Policymakers should not lose sight of people and the planet. When it comes to designing economic stimulus packages, social inclusiveness and environmental sustainability must be built into every decision,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana.

The ESCAP report further reveals that the decades-long high economic growth in the region has been accompanied by growing inequality of income and opportunity, and detrimental impacts on the planet, which are endangering the well-being of present and future generations.

Unsustainable consumption and production patterns have substantially increased greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating the vulnerability of the region to climate change. Additionally, $240 billion worth of annual subsidies continue to feed the region’s heavy dependence on fossil-fuels.