Annual Report this year from Boao Forum of Asia (BFA) shows the performance of Asian Economies and led by China has performed significantly better than that of the rest of the world in the past months, predicting Asian economy will experience continuous growth of more than 6.5 percent in 2021.

Under the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Asian economies have experienced a sharp drop in growth rates, however, Asian economic performance as a whole has been significantly better than that of the rest of the world, said the report.

In terms of purchasing power parity, Asia’s share in the global economic aggregate in 2020 reached 47.3 percent, up 0.9 percentage points from 2019.

As Asia’s largest economy, China led Asia with an impressive GDP growth rate of 2.3 percent last year.

In the first quarter of 2021, China’s economy grew by 18.3 percent year-on-year.

The report also shows that economic integration of all Asian economies is accelerating. By February 2021, there had been 186 regional trade agreements in force inside and outside Asia, accounting for 54.9 percent of the total regional agreements in the world.

In particular, the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) in November 2020 has been injecting strong momentum into regional and global economic growth, which is expected to give renewed impetus to further accelerate the negotiation of free trade agreements in Asia.

The integration of the trade of goods and services in Asia is accelerating. The trade dependence of Asian economies was more than 50 percent in 2019, with bilateral trade volumes continuing to grow, said Lin Guijun, vice president of the University of International Business and Economics, during the press conference at Boao on Sunday.

Looking ahead to 2021, the Asian economy will likely experience consistent growth, with a growth rate of more than 6.5 percent, the report noted, citing the pandemic as the main variable that affects the regional economic growth.

The 2021 BFA, also the first major international event in 2021 held in perso, officially kicked off in Boao, a coastal tropical resort in South China’s Hainan Province.

The four-day annual conference, which is themed “A World in Change: Join Hands to Strengthen Global Governance and Advance Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Cooperation,” comes at a time when Asian countries are in dire need of joining hands to address problems such as the pandemic and global geopolitical uncertainties.

“Despite the pandemic, more than 4,000 participants have registered offline for the event, which is unprecedented and is the world’s largest offline conference now,” BFA Secretary General Li Baodong told a press conference on Sunday.

Participants to join the conference online or in person include foreign state leaders, senior government officials, heads of international organizations, and other dignitaries, Li introduced.

Highlights & Opportunities

The pandemic ushered in new opportunities in the digital economy, and has spurred new momentum for driving Asia’s economic growth in the future, according to the economic outlook report.

The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) in November 2020, and the high-quality pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative are injecting strong momentum into the regional and global economic growth, stated the report.

“The most important thing for RCEP is not trade, but to strengthen the position of Asia’s value chains in the world. China and ASEAN are firmly at the center of trade in goods,” Lin Guijun, executive dean of the Academy of China Open Economy Studies of the University of International Business and Economics, said at the conference.

Integration of trade in goods in Asia continued to be advanced, and the demand growth rate in Asian economies’ service industries were higher than that for goods.

Four Deficits to be Addressed

Healthcare, infrastructure, green transformation and digital deficits are a bottleneck to sustainable recovery in Asia. Governments should prioritize narrowing these four deficits with synergized efforts, thus releasing growth potential and helping realize multiple sustainable development goals, wrote the 2021 annual report on sustainable development in Asia and the world.

For example, in terms of the health care deficit, the report called for improving access, fairness, and responsiveness of the health care system, invest more in public health infrastructure, strengthen the reserve dealing with public health emergencies, said the sustainable development report.

In terms of infrastructure, the report focused on building infrastructure targeting dealing with environmental risks and climate change, and enhancing investment in digital infrastructures. The newly signed RCEP should seize the advantages of new technologies and business models like e-commerce and automation.

The report lauded announcements made last year by leaders of China, Japan, South Korea, and other Asian economies on carbon neutrality. However, it called for concrete blueprints in industry transformation, technology advancement, and finance adaptation and mitigation to mitigate a green deficit, said the report.

In addition, the report called for the acceleration of digital transformation to narrow down the digital gap among Asian economies, which it called one of the biggest challenges faced by Asia. Countries should push social governance and city construction towards intelligence and digitalization, said the report.

The two reports were released on the first day of the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference, which will run until April 21 in Boao in south China’s Hainan Province.