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On behalf of the members of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), it is our pleasure to present this special State of the Region report on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the Asia-Pacific. We would like to express our appreciation to our member committees without whose support and effort our work would not be possible.

As the crisis was unfolding and mindful of the multiple efforts being undertaken by many organizations we had reached out to our members to ask how we might most usefully contribute to ongoing policy discussions. We are very grateful to the chair of our Chilean Committee, Ms Loreto Leyton for her proposal to undertake a special survey to allow us to address concerns raised by members such as the economic impact of the crisis, areas for cooperation, strategies for exiting from quarantine and the likely long-term impacts on business and government behavior.

We thank the Editorial Committee of the State of the Region project for their efforts in providing guidance and advice for the project. We also thank Dr Alan Bollard former Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat and former Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Prof Fukunari Kimura, Chief Economist of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and Asia, Dr Gordon de Brouwer, Honorary Professor, Crawford School of Public Policy, the Australian National University, Dr Narongchai Akrasanee, Chair of the Thai PECC committee, and Dr Sherry Stephenson from the PECC Services Network for their expert advice and suggestions.

While this report is technical in nature and focused on policy issues, we wanted to focus on why economic cooperation is important. This year is our 40th anniversary. One of the reasons for our establishment was the realization that “swiftly changing patterns of comparative advantage would require continuous and significant structural adjustments. The costs of these adjustments would lead to stresses in trade relations and resistance by those who wished to shelter themselves from new sources of international competition.” As much progress as the region has made in the last 40 years those words still ring true today.

At the very first PECC conference, Dr Hadi Soesastro who went one to become one of the longstanding pillars of our community said that it could not be assumed that interdependence necessarily led to shared objectives. While we are facing the deepest economic crisis in a century, we must not forget that at its heart this is a human tragedy. In today’s 24-hour news cycle we risk becoming desensitized by the statistics on the number of lives, jobs, and businesses lost to this disaster. Each one of these is irreplaceable.

While we remain beset by centrifugal forces, perhaps more than any other event in recent history, the Covid-19 crisis has been a shared experience. No economy has gone unscathed. That shared experience is an important basis for moving forward beyond the crisis. The PECC Charter states that our objective is to promote economic cooperation and the idea of a Pacific Community. As we have seen through this crisis the sense of community remains with doctors sharing best practices in the treatment, donations of vital equipment, and agreements on cooperation. No doubt more can be done. That is why organizations like PECC exist, to provide neutral platforms for exchange of views amongst experts.

We can only resolve this pandemic and economic crisis through effective cooperation. As this report argues levels of uncertainty remain high, not only because of the pandemic but because of other factors. Dealing with those policy uncertainties through effective international cooperation and dialogue will help to provide business, workers and individuals with greater levels of confidence than those seen in our survey results.

Lastly, we thank Mr Eduardo Pedrosa, Secretary General of PECC and Coordinator of State of Region Report and Prof Christopher Findlay, Vice-Chair of the Australian PECC Committee for writing this special report.






Don Campbell

Su Ge

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