Building a New Asia: Towards an Asian Economic Community

RIS organized the International Conference on "Building a New Asia: Towards an Asian Economic Community" on 10-11 March 2003 in New Delhi. The Conference was organized in collaboration with the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Jakarta, with the support of the Sasakawa  Peace Foundation of Japan.

Mr.  K.C. Pant, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission and Chairman, RIS delivered the inaugural address at the Conference. Hon'ble Mr. Koichi Kato, former Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan delivered the keynote address. Hon’ble Mr. I.K. Gujral, the former Prime Minister of India, delivered the valedictory address. Ambassador S.T. Devare, Vice-Chairman, RIS and Dr Nagesh Kumar, Director General also addressed the inaugural session. A delegation of the distinguished conference participants also called on Hon’ble Mr. Yashwant Sinha, External Affairs Minister of India at his office.

The Conference had the participation of about 120 including senior scholars, experts and policy makers from China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand besides India, representing leading policy think-tanks of the region.

The first session on "The Relevance of the Asian Economic Community" was chaired by Hon'ble Mr Koichi Kato at which
Dr Nagesh Kumar presented the theme paper on the Relevance of the Asian Economic Community. This presentation was followed by observations by four distinguished panelists, viz. Ambassador Pang Eng Fong (Singapore), Dr. K. Govindan (of PM's Department Malaysia), Dr. Yoon Jong Wang (KIEP, Korea) and Ambassador A.N. Ram (India).

Ambassador Shashank, Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, India chaired the second session on "Asian Identity and the Sub-regional Perspectives". Beginning with a historical perspective on regional cooperation in Asia, the session also discussed the global financial architecture and Japan's role in and the perspectives of ASEAN and China on the regional cooperation. It also discussed the relevance of India for the Asian economic community.

Professor Muchkund Dubey, Chairman, Council for Social Development, chaired the third session which had a panel discussion on regional cooperation in multilateral arrangements especially in agriculture, labour and environment.

The fourth session, chaired by Ambassador K. Kesavapany, Director, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, addressed the theme of regional cooperation in finance and monetary policy. Presentations in this session reviewed the ongoing attempts at financial and monetary cooperation in Asia, debated the relevance of Asian Bonds, and presented further proposals of more ambitious regional cooperation conducted in the framework of a new regional institution, viz. Asian Reserve Bank.

The fifth session on regional cooperation in trade, investment, technology and skills was chaired by Dr Mohammad Ariff, Executive Director, MIER. In this session, besides presentations on economics of East Asian FTA and relevance of an FTA between India and China, estimates of gains from regional economic integration in Asia in the framework of CGE models (by Mr. S.K. Mohanty, RIS), complementarities and potential of intra-regional transfers of investments, technology and skills in Asia (by Mr. Saikat Sinha Roy, until recently on RIS faculty) were also presented.

Professor S.L. Rao, former Chairman, Central Electricity Regulatory Authority, India chaired the sixth session on corporate governance and financial restructuring in Asia. The session had presentations on governance of ASEAN corporations after the crisis, political reforms, governance and privatization in Indonesia, lessons from the banking crisis in Japan and its implication for enhancing cooperation in Asia, and financial restructuring in Korea after the crisis.

At the concluding session, chaired by Ambassador S.T. Devare, a general discussion on the way forward took place. A Delhi Consensus, summarizing the general agreement at the Conference as well as follow-up action points, was also adopted. RIS has brought the proceedings of the Conference in a book form.

Contact for further details, nkumar@ris.org.in.

The Delhi Consensus