ASIA’s high dependence on external economies could make it vulnerable to shocks, a Korean official told the International Monetary Fund (IMF) conference in South Korea yesterday, as stakeholders convened to assess the region’s role as the engine for global growth.
Yoon Jeung-hyun, Korea’s Minister of Strategy and Finance, said in his opening remarks that despite the recent rapid growth, the region’s “high dependence” on other economies remains, which “leads to inherent vulnerabilities to external shocks”.
Furthermore, “24 percent of population in the Asia Pacific region is still living in poverty, and poverty percentages in individual countries vary widely from 0.4 percent to 55 percent”.
Cambodian representatives at the two-day conference in South Korea’s central city Daejeon were confident the Kingdom’s 5 percent economic growth forecast for this year was a realistic target, although it was higher than the IMF’s projections.
The IMF projected that Cambodia’s economic growth rate would be 4.5 percent, compared with a regional growth rate of more than 7 percent.
Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon, who is attending the conference, said Cambodia’s marginally higher aim of 5 percent was feasible.
The conference “is talking about the leadership of Asia – our country is also part of this leadership, and this year we will aim to reach about 5 percent [economic] growth”.
He said the government had come to the conference “to listen to the many countries of Asia, to collect knowledge, and take it to implement in our country”.
National Bank of Cambodia Governor Chea Chanto, also in attendance, said the Kingdom’s finance and banking sector had stood firm during the global economic crisis as the government, heeding signs of crisis in Western countries, took action to curb the fallout.
“We set a strategic plan to curb the impact of the crisis before it came,” he said. “It does not mean we took no impact – we did – but we managed well as we saw many foreign commercial banks come during that period because they trusted us.”
IMF’s managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn told conference delegates “Asia’s time has come. No one can doubt that Asia’s economic performance will continue to grow in importance.”