Enhanced global cooperation is urgently needed to effectively tackle the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak across the world and deal with the daunting global economic slowdown, speakers said at the Global Think Tank Webinar.
The webinar was held on Wednesday night under the topic “Stronger together: Global recovery from COVID-19”, looking at the challenges brought by the COVID-19 outbreak and ways of reviving world economy amid the crisis.
The event was co-hosted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and China Daily in Beijing. It comes as the world faces major economic challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The event, bringing together experts and scholars from around the world, discussed the impact and disruptions from the coronavirus epidemic and called for enhanced global cooperation and continued support for globalization and global supply chain.
Xie Fuzhan, president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in the opening remarks that solidarity and cooperation are the only way to prevail over the pandemic.
“Opening-up and cooperation are necessary to reboot the world economy,” Xie said. “The impact of the pandemic has accelerated the accumulation of risks and exposed them, plunging the world economy into most severe recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Today, like never before, the international community needs more synergy in making economic policies and taking stronger action to fight back the pandemic.
“In a world where all countries are closely connected by the global industrial, supply and value chains, only by opening-up and sharing the market can we cope with the challenge and create greater development opportunities.”
Xie added China is a major force in promoting global anti-epidemic cooperation and fueling the recovery of the world economy, as China has largely controlled the epidemic at home, with production and businesses going back to normalcy, the national economy recovering, and foreign trade and investment stabilizing with government’s effective measures and policies.
So far, China has donated $50 million to the World Health Organization and provided emergency medical supplies to more than 150 countries and international organizations.
“We should reject suspicion and doubt to build an open world economy,” Zhou Shuchun, publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily, said. “China is working to give full play to its domestic market, the largest in the world, and building a new model of development in which domestic economic networks play the primary role, and domestic and international economic networks complement each other. China will stay committed to further reform and opening up and will make new contributions to stabilize the world economy and advance globalization.”
Zhou called for enhanced cooperation to make sure that peace and development remain the focus of the world.
“International relations in the post-war era teach us that interests of countries are closely inter-connected and that the future of mankind is increasingly linked together.”
“In spite of the new changes in the international arena, we should always uphold multilateralism and reject Cold War mentality and unilateralism; pursue solidarity and coordination and oppose self-centrism and bullying; stay committed to win-win cooperation and refuse a zero-sum game and egoism.
“We should seek development in peace and pursue progress in development, plan for post-pandemic development with an open, cooperative and win-win mindset and work toward the goal of building a community with a shared future for mankind,” Zhou added.
Shamshad Akhtar, former under-secretary-general of United Nations and former executive director of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, said only through solidarity and cooperation can we conquer the virus and get through the current crisis.
Akhtar noted countries need to focus on key global issues and challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic, paying more attention to resolving their differences through cooperation and taking timely actions to deal with the crisis.
As China gradually brings the epidemic under control and its business is gradually back to normal, the country is now playing the role of “stabilizer” for the global economy while contributing to the global fight against the pandemic.
The pandemic has spread fiercely across the world and has had a huge impact on economic and social development. With people around the world struggling with this unprecedented public health crisis, the downward pressure on the global economy has been increasing with each passing day. And although China’s economy registered positive growth in the second quarter of this year, it is still under huge pressure.\
Yu Yongding, senior fellow and academician of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, believed China will win the battle against the coronavirus. “While implementing most strict social distancing policy despite the huge economic and social costs, the government devised ways to help businesses survive the crisis, focusing in particular on small and medium-size services firms.”
“The Chinese economy is very resilient. Experience over the past 40 years shows that whatever difficulties it faces, China eventually will come through. According to the IMF, China accounted for 40 percent of global economic growth in 2019, larger than the combined contributions to global growth of the US, EU and Japan. I am quite confident that it will do the same, if not more, in 2020 and beyond,” Yu added.
Considering the global efforts to fight the coronavirus, Alexander Lomanov, deputy director for Scientific Work, head of the Center for the Asia-Pacific Studies of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences, noted the world community failed to fully utilize the potential of international organizations in the first half of 2020, saying the attacks on the WHO by the leading power and its withdrawal from the organization have demonstrated the lack of readiness for coordinated joint action.
“In the first place we have the task of restoring trust among the nation-states. The only alternative to blackmail is dialogue. The only alternative to the arbitrary application of sanctions is a reliable and effective mechanism for world trade. The only alternative to unilateralism is adherence to the international law,” Lomanov said.
According to Lomanov, the coronavirus pandemic and the global economic downturn have reminded the world about the need to reform and improve global governance mechanisms. “The problem is that the searches for coordinated steps in this direction remains slow. The current crisis situation requires quick and flexible responses.”
Fahad Alturki, vice-president and head of research at the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, said inclusive, balanced and sustainable measures are needed to restore economic development.
More efforts are also needed to learn from each other and share experiences, help people in need, restore the economy and the functions of societies to a healthy level, employ forward-looking fiscal measures, and enhance social and economic resilience to deal with future crises, Alturki added.
“Reforming the WTO is extremely important because the global economy needs trade rules,” said
Masahiro Kawai, representative director and director-general of Economic Research Institute for Northeast Asia, a Japan-based institute committed to strengthening regional economic development and cooperation.
Pushing ahead the WTO reforms in such areas as dispute settlement and policy transparency and reporting will help shore up global trade, which is a key channel for economic growth in many countries but has been hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Kawai.
He added that the Japanese economy seems to have reached its bottom in May and June and will start recovering in the second half of the year if the country is successful in containing COVID-19 infection cases.
Antonio Villafranca, research coordinator and co-head of the Europe and Global Governance Centre, Italian Institute for International Political Studies, sharing the Europe Union’s efforts to battle the coronavirus, said: “For the first time in history, the European Union is going to raise altogether up to 750 billion euros. This is really unprecedented, something that if anybody told me that four months ago five months ago, I would say he or she would be crazy because that was absolutely impossible in the European Union. Still we did it.
“But we have to acknowledge that there would not be such a dire need for economic response if we have managed to improve our healthcare response sufficiently.
The better we are at responding to the pandemic from a healthcare perspective, the less we need an economic response, a strong economic response. This is a link that we have to acknowledge.”
Zhang Yuyan, director of Institute of World Economics and Politics under CASS，who chaired the webinar, cited the Chinese saying “sailing in the same boat, together we will overcome difficulties”. Zhang said countries around the world need to work together to overcome the coronavirus crisis.
“We cannot ignore the basic laws of economic operation, and we must optimize the international division of labor system and promote free trade to boost economic development”.
The Institute of World Economics and Politics released the “Fight the COVID-19 Pandemic and Improve Global Health Governance” report during the webinar.
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