Regional Trade Integration Leads to Sustained Growth in South Asia: IMF’s Lagarde

IMF Chief lagarde

New Delhi, Mar 12, 2016 (LBO) – Even-greater trade integration can support more sustained growth, especially for countries in South Asia, observed Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund.

Lagarde made these remarks at the opening session of a three-day high-level conference in New Delhi themed “Advancing Asia: Investing for the Future”.

The conference is co-hosted by The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Government of India. She was addressing a gathering of senior officials, corporate executives, academics, and civil society representatives from more than 30 countries spanning Asia and the Pacific.

“Regional Economic Outlook: Asia and Pacific of IMF April 2014” noted that both the intensity and the type of trade between economies can make them co-move, either by propagating shocks from one to another or by making the same shocks commonly shared.

Lagarde further emphasized that comprehensive regional trade agreements can help to lower tariff and non-tariff barriers, and incorporate new areas like services.

In her speech, Lagarde observed that given the vital economic role Asia plays, making the most of Asia’s dynamism is of great interest to the entire world. She outlined three strategic imperatives for Asia; building on recent gains, responding to global economic challenges and unlocking Asia’s potential.

According to the IMF Regional Economic Outlook of April 2015 Asia accounts for 40 percent of the global economy and over the next four years—even with slightly declining momentum—Asia stands to deliver nearly two-thirds of global growth.

Lagarde stated that the increased interconnectedness means that Asia now affects the world more than ever before; by the same token, Asia is now more deeply affected by global economic developments than ever before—and must respond to them.

“This region’s dynamism presents a historic opportunity to invest now in the future—and to advance Asia. Doing so will not only put Asia on the path to sustained growth, but also strengthen its role in the global economy—as a key contributor and as a leader for the 21st Century.”

To meet these challenges Lagarde called upon Asian nations to broaden access to services such as health and education, targeted subsidies to avoid costly across-the-board subsidies, making taxes more progressive, empowering women and provided girls with access to education, investment in infrastructure to boost inclusive growth, multi-lateral trade liberalization and responding to climate change.

Lagarde expressed her optimism on Aisa’s future, “Yes, these challenges are daunting—and yes, I am convinced that Asia can meet them. I have visited Asia many times, and I have always been struck by the vibrancy, energy, and can-do attitude of its people.”

Mr Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India will deliver the opening keynote address. The conference will continue till Sunday the 13th March.

(LBO staffer reporting from New Delhi)