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31 August 2020


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The COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent emergency measures, such as lockdowns and travel restrictions, have put public health systems under severe stress and caused hundreds of millions around the world to lose their livelihoods. The economic consequences have been unprecedented, with most economies in the region expecting a contraction in GDP along with a rise in poverty and inequality.

To respond to the crisis, on 28 May 2020, the United Nations Secretary-General, the Prime Minister of Canada and the Prime Minister of Jamaica convened world leaders, heads of international organizations and representatives from the private sector and civil society to launch a large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive multilateral response to the COVID-19 emergency. Member States from the Asia-Pacific region have been participating actively in these Discussion Groups, and the ESCAP secretariat, along with several other UN entities and international organizations, have been providing technical assistance to them.

This Regional Conversation shared insights on the proposed policy options that are most suitable for the region’s economies. It will revolve on the following questions:

  1. What is the situation of fiscal space, debt sustainability, and foreign exchange liquidity in Asia Pacific economies? Which national, regional and global initiatives should countries support to address these issues? 
  2. What key policies can be implemented to build back better the region’s economies? Which policies are most urgently needed in the region and how they can be prioritized? 
  3. How can regional cooperation support resilient, inclusive, and sustainable economic recovery? 

Opening Remarks

  • Ms. Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations
  • Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary of ESCAP
  • Mr. Masatsugu Asakawa, President, Asian Development Bank

Keynote Speakers:

  • H.E. Mr. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Civil Service, and Communications of Fiji
  • H.E. Mr. Ibrahim Ameer,Finance Minister of Maldives
  • H.E. Mr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Pakistan

Remarks by eminent persons:

  • Mr. Chatib Basri, Former Finance Minister, Indonesia
  • Mr. Kairat Kelimbetov, Governor, Astana International Financial Center, Kazakhstan
  • Mr. Ronadol Numnonda, Deputy Governor, Financial Institution Stability, Bank of Thailand
  • Mr. Victor Fung, Chairman, Fung Group, Hong Kong, China
  • Ms. Yuefen Li, United Nations Independent Expert on Foreign Debt and Human Rights
  • Ms. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Former Governor of the Central Bank of Malaysia


  • Mr. Hamza Ali Malik, Macroeconomic Policy and Financing for Development

>> See other Regional Conversation Series on Building Back Better events

for more information, please contact

Macroeconomic Policy and Financing for Development Division +66 2 288-1234