As the world grapples with novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and its massive economic shock, economic experts and business leaders worldwide are calling for global cooperation to cope with this unprecedented common challenge.

In times of crisis, people should “look for constructive possibilities for increasing cooperation rather than spiralling toward more conflict,” said Kent Calder, Director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins University at an online seminar held by Boao Forum for Asia Academy.

Craig Allen, president of the U.S.- China Business Council, underscored the huge amount of uncertainty of this outbreak in his speech at Wednesday’s seminar, which focused on the world economy under the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is neither known how widespread COVID-19 will be, nor how long it will last, said Allen.

He stressed that the recession risk is “very real,” citing temporary business closures, lay-offs of hundreds of thousands of workers, and volatility in the U.S. financial market.

Tom Orlik, chief economist at Bloomberg Economics, expressed similar concerns. He expected the global economy to shrink by 1.8 percent year on year in the first half of 2020, who warned of overlapping slowing-down in different economies.

Echoing the grim mood, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said earlier this week that the multilateral lender expects global growth outlook for 2020 to be negative “a recession at least as bad as during the global financial crisis or worse.”

Experts at the BFA Academy seminar also talked of the upcoming special G20 leaders’ video summit in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the meeting will be very timely and indicate a great step forward in cooperation among major economies against the virus.

To minimize the impact of the pandemic, it is important to keep a good balance between containment of the virus and keeping the economy alive, they said.

Experts attending the seminar also appreciated China’s epidemic control efforts and outcomes, which has not only protected its own people but also contributed to the global fight against the pandemic and helped stabilise the global supply chain.

As for the developing economies, Jang Ping Thia, a Senior Economist with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), noted that they are facing extra pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic since they do not have the capacity or policy room for coping strategies.

Under such circumstances, the AIIB would work closely with other international organisations to scale up support for developing economies, especially in terms of the financing of infrastructure projects, he said.