BEIJING – Despite a shaky global recovery and rising trade protectionism, the Asian economy will maintain robust growth, as countries in the region deepen economic cooperation and benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative, renowned economists told the Boao Forum for Asia’s annual conference.
Dai Xianglong, China’s former central bank governor, said Asia will remain the world’s fastest-growing region in the coming 20 years, or even by the middle of this century.
“An important driver will be China, whose intensified push to further open itself to the world will generate more opportunities for other Asian economies,” Dai said.
According to Dai, China’s GDP is expected to expand at around 6 per cent in the next decade. Though such a rate is slower than in previous years, the growth will be of higher quality and more consumption-driven.
The rising purchasing power of Chinese consumers will help boost China’s trade links with other Asian countries, Dai said, adding that India is also expected to post faster growth, which will also spur the overall development of the region.
Moreover, China’s Belt and Road Initiative will help build sprawling infrastructure connections among Asian countries, which will lay a sound base for closer economic ties, said Yasuyuki Sawada, chief economist of the Asian Development Bank.
Promoting free trade is one of the keys to maintaining the strong momentum of the Asian economy. To achieve that, it is of great importance to build broader infrastructure connections in transport, energy and information technology. That is exactly what the Belt and Road Initiative has been calling for, Sawada added.
His view was echoed by Qian Keming, China’s vice-minister of commerce. “The Belt and Road Initiative will play a big role in boosting Asian economic integration. On top of closer infrastructure links, it will also promote more dialogue in policy, trade and institutional mechanisms,” Qian said.
Amid rising trade protectionism, he said the initiative’s call for openness, inclusiveness and the common destiny of a shared future will help advance multilateral trade and drive the overall development of Asia.
“The past years have already seen significant progress in Asian economic integration. Currently, trade inside Asean accounts for 30 per cent of Asean's overall trade volume. The figure in European countries is 70 per cent. This highlights huge potential for further development in Asia,” Qian added.