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Forum: G20 and APEC

China Daily | Updated: 2022-11-14 07:55
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Editor's note: The G20 Summit, to be held in Bali on Tuesday and Wednesday, will focus on the global health architecture, and clean energy and digital transformations. Due to the devastating economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of many countries to address the health crisis, the summit is likely to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, and promote sustainable and inclusive development. Four experts share their views on the issue with China Daily.

Cooperation can boost health resilience

By Budi Gunadi Sadikin

Over the past 11 months, I have had the honor of presiding over the G20's health track, with the aim of making the global health system more inclusive, equitable, and responsive to health emergencies. At the start of this journey, the Indonesian presidency of the G20 set ambitious goals, and we have since navigated highly technical discussions while managing challenging geopolitical dynamics.

It has not been easy. But I have been reminded time and time again of the Confucian saying: "when it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals; adjust the action steps". With this in mind, amid the specter of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indonesian presidency encouraged all G20 members to put our differences aside and to engage actively in discussing without prejudice new solutions to shared global health challenges that affect all our citizens.

Progress made by all G20 economies

I am pleased to say that the G20 members have all "adjusted our action steps". We will submit an ambitious technical document to the G20 Leaders' Summit in Bali, Indonesia, on Tuesday and Wednesday, detailing the measures we have agreed upon to strengthen the global health architecture. I am proud that at the second G20 Health Ministers' Meeting in Bali at the end of October, the G20 members came together to speak the same language — the language of humanity above all, the language of health that knows no borders.

There were six major outcomes for the G20 discussions aimed at building global health resilience. First, the G20 has launched the Pandemic Fund, which has already received more than $1.4 billion in pledges, and, with continued G20 support, will continue to play a major role in financing the gap in capacity for low- and middle-income countries to prevent, prepare for and respond to pandemics.

Second, G20 members committed to discussing ways to build on the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) platform so we can have a global mechanism to respond more quickly to pandemics in the future.

Third, the G20 has made progress on genomic surveillance, which should pave the way for continued progress in the area of genomic data sharing between countries, so that we can better monitor pathogens of concern around the world.

Fourth, the G20 committed to building on the early successes of an international travel medical certificate system, and continuing to allow people to travel, and goods and services to be transported across borders safely during health emergencies.

Fifth, the G20 also committed to conducting a gap analysis and mapping exercise of existing and emerging vaccine research and manufacturing networks, so we can deliver vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostic tools more equitably and effectively to populations in need.

And sixth, the G20 secured calls to action on several pressing health issues, including on increasing funding to combat tuberculosis; improving capacity to prevent, detect and respond to the looming threat of antimicrobial resistance; and implementing the One Health initiative aimed at securing the holistic and inextricably linked health of the environment, our food, our populations and the animal kingdom.

Global progress via bilateral cooperation

While I am proud of the concrete outcomes of the G20's efforts to strengthen the global health architecture at the multilateral level, we must also look to forge strategic bilateral partnerships to help build national and regional resilience. China is among Indonesia's closest partners in this regard, and our bilateral cooperation on healthcare is an area that is already paying dividends in strengthening our mutual healthcare resilience.

The health cooperation between China and Indonesia has been guided over the past five years by a memorandum of understanding on health cooperation, covering pressing issues for both countries, such as disease prevention, primary healthcare, universal health coverage, health promotion, child and maternal health, and human resource development. This month, we hope to renew and strengthen this memorandum of understanding for the next three years to also include new areas, such as secondary healthcare, health resilience and health technology.

Health resilience, in particular, is a key area where China-Indonesia cooperation can really add value, and the imminent renewal of our bilateral cooperation will hopefully drive this further forward. One of the most significant outcomes of Sino-Indonesian cooperation to strengthen health resilience is the establishment of the Joint Research and Development Centre on Vaccines and Genomics.

It is a platform to strengthen the scientific and technological capacity building in both China and Indonesia, and establish a sustainable long-term cooperative relationship in the field of vaccines and genomics.

I am also encouraged by numerous other efforts to build health resilience. These include the ongoing discussions on Sinovac vaccine development in Indonesia; a potential cooperation between Bio Farma and the Chengdu Institute of Biological Products; and the inauguration last month of the PT Etana Biotechnologies factory in the Pulogadung Industrial Estate, which produces mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines thanks to technology transfer from Suzhou Abogen Biosciences and Walvax Biotechnology.

Setting the tone for wider pan-Asian cooperation

As Indonesia prepares to take on the ASEAN chairmanship in 2023, we are considering ways to bolster regional cooperation within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and beyond to help respond to the most prominent health emergencies across the whole of Asia.

Our continent's large population is spread across a hugely diverse landmass and is increasingly prone to climate disasters and health emergencies. Many of the countries suffer from a gap in healthcare provision, including skilled healthcare personnel, robust healthcare infrastructure, limited financial resources, and a lack of up-to-date health technology. As is being demonstrated by discussions at the G20 and by China-Indonesia bilateral relations, the health resilience of our countries is dependent on health cooperation at all levels.

It is important that we try to emulate and replicate the successes of bilateral and multilateral health cooperation to help build health resilience across Asia, so we can better respond to these vulnerabilities. This seems like a lofty goal but our governments have no other choice but to cooperate to ensure the health security of all our citizens. We must set our differences aside and constantly review and adjust our actions to achieve goals that may seem impossible to reach, but all our citizens deserve.

The author is Indonesia's minister of health.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.


To construct a China-Indonesia community of shared future

By Lu Kang

The world peace and development faces major challenges, including the challenge to boosting global economic recovery amid the twists and turns in international relations.

Despite the profound adjustments to, and development of, international relations, the China-Indonesia partnership has remained focused on building a community with a shared future for the two countries, especially because deepening bilateral relations have benefited the peoples of the two countries and have had far-reaching impacts on regional and global developments.

The Sino-Indonesian comprehensive strategic partnership has continued to deepen with frequent high-level exchanges. President Xi Jinping and Indonesian President Joko Widodo have maintained close strategic communication, exchanged in-depth views on bilateral ties and international and regional issues of common concern, and reached a series of important consensuses on various subjects.

In July President Widodo became the first foreign head of state to visit China after the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, reflecting the great importance both sides attach to bilateral relations. The two sides have also deepened four-pillar cooperation with the aim of strengthening political, economic, people-to-people exchanges and maritime projects, setting an apt example of how developing countries should collaborate on common programs and achieve win-win results.

Besides, President Widodo and leaders of major political parties in Indonesia sent congratulatory messages on the successful conclusion of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last month, and lauded Beijing for the achievements it has made under the leadership of President Xi.

In general, people from all walks of life in Indonesia believe the 20th Party Congress has scientifically devised major policies, and set ambitious goals for China's future undertakings in order to write a new chapter of Chinese modernization, as well as create new development opportunities to boost China-Indonesia cooperation.

Practical cooperation between China and Indonesia has continued to advance, and the joint promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative has yielded fruitful results. Both China and Indonesia are at a critical stage of economic development, and development is a prerequisite for solving the problems facing the two countries.

During his visit to Indonesia in 2013, President Xi proposed that the two countries jointly build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which together with the Silk Road Economic Belt, makes up the Belt and Road Initiative. Now, the two countries are preparing to reap the harvest of their joint efforts to advance the initiative over the past nine years.

The two sides are also working closely to complete the flagship project of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway on schedule and create new cooperation projects such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Corridor. China is Indonesia's largest trading partner and a major source of investment, with bilateral trade maintaining a strong growth momentum. Also, the two sides are working to formulate a new five-year action plan to promote all-round, high-level cooperation, so as to jointly improve the well-being of the two peoples.

Indonesia is set to host the G20 Summit in Bali on Tuesday and Wednesday. And given the high global inflation, reluctance of major Western economies for policy coordination, and the gathering global economic risks, it has become even more important and pressing for the G20 to strengthen policy coordination and cooperation.

In a grand gesture, President Widodo, during his visit to China, personally invited President Xi to attend the summit.

On China's part, it has been closely coordinating and cooperating with Indonesia to ensure the G20 clears away political interference, and focuses on overcoming global challenges such as climate change, food and energy crises, public health, and promoting international cooperation in those areas.

To deal with major issues thwarting global growth, bolster Asian countries' development and play a bigger role in global governance, the two countries should continue contributing Asia's strength and wisdom on global governance, and highlight the great strategic significance and far-reaching influence of China-Indonesia relations.

The mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Indonesia conforms to the trend of our times. And while the Chinese people have embarked on a new journey to build a modern socialist country in all respects, Indonesians are working hard pursuing Vision 2045. Moreover, the strategic guidance of the two heads of state will continue to inject new impetus into China-Indonesia ties and help build a Sino-Indonesian community with a shared future, help boost the recovery of the world economy, and promote international fairness and justice.

The author is Chinese ambassador to Indonesia.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.


What fragmentation risks mean for Asia and the Pacific

By Steven Barnett and Li Xin

The global economy faces steep challenges. Lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, high food and energy prices, a strong US dollar, and monetary tightening in key advanced economies are all influencing the outlook. And, in terms of global growth, the worst is yet to come. In our (IMF's) most recent global forecasts, we expect growth to drop from 3.2 percent this year to 2.7 percent next year. Also, the downside risks to the global outlook are elevated.

Against this backdrop, in our latest Regional Economic Outlook, we cut the growth forecast for Asia and the Pacific to 4 percent this year and 4.3 percent next year. This is well below the 5.5 percent average over the last two decades. The revisions reflect that Asia's strong economic rebound early this year is losing momentum, with a weaker-than-expected second quarter. Despite this, Asia remains a relatively bright spot in an increasingly dimming global economy.

The outlook for Asia will also be shaped by geopolitical tensions. Globalization is facing perhaps its biggest trial since the establishment of the Bretton Woods system. The world is at risk of a more permanent fragmentation of the global economy into geopolitical blocs with distinct technology standards, cross-border payment systems, and reserve currencies.

In our Regional Economic Outlook, we looked at the implications for Asia. We documented worrying early signs of such fragmentation, and provide evidence of the potential consequences of dissolving global trade links. Geopolitical tensions have raised the prospect of strategic competition and national security concerns trumping the shared economic benefits of global trade.

Interdependency between economies means that such a prospect would be very costly, especially for Asia. For example, about half of the imports in the United States and one-third in Europe come from Asia. And, in turn, Asian countries account for almost half of global demand for key commodities.

One such sign of fragmentation pressure comes from measures of trade-policy uncertainty. This measure spiked in 2018 amid tensions between the US and China.

Even without actual restrictions, policy uncertainty related to trade can worsen economic activity as enterprises pause hiring and investment, and new enterprises may decide to postpone entry into a market.

Our analysis shows that a typical shock to trade policy uncertainty, like the 2018 buildup of US-China tensions, reduces investment by about 3.5 percent after two years. It also decreases gross domestic product by 0.4 percent and raises the unemployment rate by 1 percentage point. Not everyone is equally vulnerable, however.

The effects on investment are even greater for emerging markets and more open economies, and for enterprises with high debt. Also, Corporate debt has increased significantly in Asia since the global financial crisis — spiking further in the wake of the pandemic — suggesting that higher trade policy uncertainty could prove to be especially damaging for the region.

As bad as these effects are, losses would be even greater under actual fragmentation. Against the backdrop of tepid productivity growth around the world, we estimate output losses from trade fragmentation due to lower productivity. These losses represent a lower bound, as the estimates do not account for channels such as the effects of a lower capital stock due to diminished investment and the potential disruption to knowledge flows.

The fragmentation scenario we model is one where trade is cut off between trading blocs in sectors such as energy and technology which have recently seen an increase in restrictions, and where non-tariff barriers in other sectors are raised to Cold Warera levels.

As trade unravels and specialization is unwound, there would be severe implications for labor markets. In those sectors that have contracted due to higher trade restrictions in this illustrative scenario, average employment losses in Asian countries are estimated to be as high as 7 percent.

These results focus on trade and ignore any effects from the potential unraveling of financial ties, which are also very deep. Financial fragmentation may lead to short-term costs from a rapid unwinding of financial positions, and long-term costs from lower diversification and slower productivity growth because of reduced foreign direct investment.

Our work shows that the stakes are high. And rather than fragmentation, the global economy needs trade to be an engine of growth. The major economies of the world can make this happen by leading an effort to strengthen the multilateral trading system. This starts with rolling back damaging trade restrictions, and continues with positive steps, such as concluding new market opening-up agreements in key areas of the modern economy; strengthening the role of trade in fighting climate change; and restoring a fully functional World Trade Organization dispute settlement system.

All of this should be coupled with a renewed commitment to a multilateral approach. Governments should take their disputes to the WTO rather than acting unilaterally. Above all, engagement and dialogue between countries is vital to avoid the most harmful fragmentation scenarios.

Steven Barnett is IMF's senior resident representative for China.Li Xin is IMF deputy resident representative for China.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.


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