6th OECD-AMRO-ADB/ADBI-ERIA Asian Regional Roundtable on Macroeconomic and Structural Policies

Date & Time: Thursday & Friday, July 26 & 27, 2018

Location: ADB Headquarters, Manila, Philippines

Contact: enquiry@amro-asia.org

The OECD-AMRO-ADB/ADBI-ERIA Asian Regional Roundtable convenes leading experts from Asian countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to discuss the issues at the fore of recent economic developments in the region. It serves as a platform for knowledge sharing between the OECD, the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO), the Asian Development Bank (ADB)/ ADB Institute (ADBI), Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) and Emerging Asia’s policy makers, as well as academics and the private sector. The roundtable also provides opportunities for dialogue on near-term macroeconomic policies and medium-term growth and development challenges including the linkages between near-term and medium-term issues, current agendas as well as future challenges in Emerging Asian economies.

Through five sessions, this year’s roundtable will address recent domestic, regional and global trends that are changing the environment facing Emerging Asia’s policy makers. In the first session, a case study of Singapore will be presented to look into the relationship between technology and labour markets, as well as the policy lessons of this experience for other countries. The second session will address the wave of global unbundling associated with economic digitalisation and its implications for growth in Emerging Asia. The possibilities created by technological change and the need for policy responses that also address its other consequences for workers and societies will be the topic of the third session. On the second day, the fourth session will discuss the potential for financial technology (fintech) to facilitate financial inclusion and related issues that need to be addressed. The final session will explore some of the challenges associated with Emerging Asia’s rapid urbanisation – particularly those regarding transportation and environmental hazards – and possible policy solutions.

Previous roundtables were held in Singapore, Manila and Tokyo and focused on topics including Euro-area economic uncertainty and its implications for Asian economies, new growth models in Asia, the impact of monetary easing in the OECD on the Asian economies, and the middle-income trap.


10:00 – 10:20 Registration
10:20 – 10:30 Opening remark
Yasuyuki Sawada, Chief Economist and Director General, Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department, Asian Development Bank
10:30 – 12:00 Session 1: Technology and the Labour Market: A Singapore Case Study and Lessons for the ASEAN Region
The rise of digital technologies is generating renewed interest in the relationship between technology and the labour market. While policymakers are generally optimistic about their macroeconomic prospects, the potential adverse distributional effects on the labour market can be a cause for concern. In as much new technologies increase productivity and wages of skilled workers, they also displace less-skilled workers in routine-based tasks made redundant by these changes.

This session explores the differential impacts of technology on wages and productivity growth in Singapore. It will also discuss policy efforts in ensuring greater inclusivity in the digital economy. Finally, it will review the progress of digital evolution across the ASEAN region and examine how the lessons from Singapore’s adoption of digital technologies can be applied.

Key questions to be discussed will include:

·         What are the challenges faced in adopting newer technologies in the workplace?

·         How can policies encourage greater technological use to spur higher wage growth, particularly among the lower-skilled segments?

·         How can policymakers seize these technological improvements to encourage growth in their economies?

·         Which policies are more effective at promoting greater digital inclusivity?

Moderator: Maria Socorro Gochoco-Bautista, AMRO Advisory Panel Member and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Sterling Chair Professor of Monetary Economics at the University of the Philippines School of Economics                             

Keynote Presentation:

·         Justin Lim, Researcher, ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO)


·         Kensuke Tanaka, Head of Asia Desk, OECD Development Centre

·         Elisabetta Gentile, Economist, Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department, ADB

Open discussion 

12:00 – 13:30 Lunch
13:30 – 15:00 Session 2: Digital Economy and the 3rd Unbundling of Globalisation: the New Growth Engine for Emerging Asia
The concept of ‘unbundling’ is especially useful in understanding the progress of globalization. Asian countries have largely been successful in utilizing the mechanics of the 1st and 2nd unbundling of globalization to achieve economic growth. A new wave of the 3rd wave of global unbundling that is associated with economic digitalization is now coming. Under the 3rd unbundling, the face-to-face connectivity is more convenient than ever before, with lower cost and higher quality. The division of labour is going to be person-wise; a task will be unbundled into persons possibly located in different countries. This has brought new opportunity as well as challenges to Asia. It is time to reorganize thoughts and have out-of-the-box considerations of development from the perspective of technological progress and globalization.

Key questions to be discussed will include:

·         What does it mean to Asia the arrival of digitalization and the 3rd unbundling of globalization?

·         How far can Asia take advantage of the associated dispersion forces and attract economic activities with better connectivity

·         What are the keys and how to unleash benefits from the 3rd unbundling of globalization?

Moderator: TBD

Keynote Presentation:

Fukunari Kimura, Chief Economist, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) and Professor, Faculty of Economics, Keio University, “‘Unbundlings’ and Development Strategies in Asia”


·         Denis Hew, Director, Policy Support Unit (PSU), APEC Secretariat, Singapore

·         Lurong Chen, Economist, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA)

Open discussion  

15:00 – 15:15 Coffee break
15:15 – 16:45 Session 3: Technological Change and the Future of Work
Advances in digital technologies, alongside breakthroughs in robotics, 3D printing, and biotechnology, are likely to have dramatic implications for business models and the nature of work. While these technologies will be key drivers of future prosperity, they also pose challenges for workers and societies. Though these challenges should not be overstated, meeting them will require proactive and coordinated policy responses by governments, the multilateral system, and other stakeholders. New technologies will likely alter the composition of skills needed, contributing to lower wage growth for jobs that are intensive in manual and routine tasks. New technologies may also lead to more frequent episodes of unemployment and diminish the prevalence of stable, full time jobs. Governments will need to respond to help shield workers from these negative effects. This will require policy actions on skills development, labor regulation, social protection, and income distribution.  Further, ensuring that new technologies work for society at large will require appropriate investments in infrastructure, including IT, and regulatory policies that ensure competition among technology giants and privacy and security of data.

Key questions to be discussed will include:

·        What types of skills will workers need to work effectively with new technologies?  In what ways should education and skills development systems adapt?

·        Many Asian economies have benefited greatly from participation in global value chains. Yet there are fears of “reshoring” of production back to advanced economies as robots become more sophisticated and cheaper.  How real is this concern?  Can Asia’s latecomers still benefit from GVC participation?

·        If labour regulations are to remain flexible, social protection systems will need to be strengthened dramatically to protect workers adversely affected by technological advances. What are realistic approaches for strengthening social protection systems for low- and middle-income economies in light of weak administrative and financial capacity?

Moderator: Joseph E. Zveglich, Jr., Director, Macroeconomics Research Division, ADB                  

Keynote Presentation: Rana Hasan, Director, Development Economics and Indicators Division, ADB


·         Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines

·         Jose Ramon Albert, Senior Research Fellow, Philippine Institute for Development Studies

Open discussion


9:00 – 10:30 Session 4: Financial Technology and Financial Inclusion in Asia
Financial technology (fintech) is often seen as one of the potential tools to enhance accessibility of financial services through new and innovative solutions. Increasing financial inclusion, that is, affordable and appropriate access to financial services by households and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), is an important aspect of the general goals of inclusive growth and financial development. Only 25 percent of the adult population in Asia has access to financial services compared to the global average of 40 percent. Fintech could, in particular, help improve financial inclusion in rural areas where access to conventional banking facilities are limited. However, some challenges would need to be addressed for the countries to be able to use fintech effectively. One challenge is improving financial literacy. In general, financial literacy levels in Asia are low. The advent of digital finance, on the other hand, requires greater financial awareness and literacy. Financial education programs are therefore important to support and contribute positively to the ability of households and SMEs to maximize the use of fintech and effectively take advantage of increased access to financial services. Another challenge is providing a conducive environment for fintech innovators and entrepreneurs. This includes developing adequate ICT infrastructure and providing enabling regulatory environment (including ensuring risks mitigation and consumer protection against cybercrimes).

Key questions to be discussed include:

  • What are the implications of recent developments in fintech on financial inclusion?
  • How policies and regulations should be designed to ensure that fintech contributes to financial inclusion?

·         What are the impacts of financial education and financial literacy on the ability of low-income households and small firms to access financial services through the effective use of fintech?

Moderator: Naoyuki Yoshino, Dean and CEO, Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI)

Keynote Presentation: 

  • Naoyuki Yoshino, Dean and CEO, ADBI, Development of financial technology and financial education for widening financial inclusion


·         Satoshi Kuwahara, President, Credit Risk Database (CRD), Big data analysis of SME and its credit rating

·         Fujio Nakatsuka, Financial Technology Institute of Japan, Development of Fin-Tech regulations

Open discussion

10:30 – 10:45 Coffee break
10:45 – 12:15 Session 5: Smart Cities and Urbanisation in Emerging Asia
Emerging Asia’s cities have grown rapidly, and further increases in urban population are expected. While cities can offer higher incomes and access to services to residents, as well as urban agglomeration effects that can increase economic efficiency, rapid urbanisation is also creating challenges for policy makers to address. This session will address two important areas of challenges facing cities in the region: transportation, particularly traffic congestion, and environmental hazards (i.e. pollution and natural disasters).  A range of policy options addressing the design of cities and transport systems, pricing of private transportation and pollution emissions, and institutional arrangements for co-operation across levels of government will need to be considered in reducing the costs to economic growth and human wellbeing posed by these challenges.

Key questions to be discussed will include:

·        What priorities should be set by policy makers in the region to cope with rapid urbanisation and the challenges that it brings through the development of smart cities?

·        What policy options should be considered in coping with urban transportation challenges in the region?

·        What policy options should be considered by policy makers in the region in managing environmental hazards, in particular air pollution and natural disasters?

Moderator: Kensuke Tanaka, Head of Asia Desk, OECD Development Centre

Keynote Presentation: Policy challenges for promoting smart cities in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand – 3 case studies 

·         Siti Maimunah, Head of Technology Development and Research Supporting Intermodal Transport Research Center, Indonesian Ministry of Transportation

·         Dahlia Rosly, Advisor, Council of Advisors, Malaysian Institute of Planners

·         Termsap Taelakul, Spatial Development Expert, Spatial Development Planning and Strategy Office, Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) Thailand


·         Shom Teoh Programme Manager, Sustainable Cities Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)

·         Lurong Chen, Economist, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA)

Open discussion

12:15 – 12:45 Closing remarks

Izuru Kobayashi, COO and Director General, ERIA (next year’s host)

6th OECD-AMRO-ADB/ADBI-ERIA Asian Regional Roundtable on Macroeconomic and Structural Policies

Professor Maria Socorro Gochocho-Bautista, a member of AMRO’s AP chairing AMRO’s session, and Mr Lim presenting on the impact of technology on wages and productivity in Singapore