Making Digital Platforms Work for Asia and the Pacific
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted both supply and demand sides of an interconnected world economy during 2020. Asia and the Pacific was not immune as lockdowns and travel and trade restrictions affected nearly all aspects of cross-border economic activity. The Asian Economic Integration Report (AEIR) 2021 examines the initial impact on trade, investment, finance, and people’s mobility across the region as the pandemic struck. The report looks at how regional economies individually or collectively respond to the crisis by, for example, leveraging rapid technological progress, digitalization, and increasing services trade to reconnect and recover. This year’s AEIR theme chapter is on digital platforms and how they can accelerate digital transformation across the region.
With the rise of digital platforms, new business models have proliferated, offering enormous economic opportunities.
The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the digital transformation for businesses of all sizes and across all industries.
COVID-19 has weighed heavily on health and economic systems worldwide; it severely disrupted Asia’s cross-border trade and economic activities, and exposed vulnerabilities of global supply chains.
The pandemic caused investment flows to plummet globally through March 2020. Asian economies were among the hardest hit globally in reduced FDI inflows during the first quarter of 2020.
COVID-19-induced economic slowdowns in the first quarter of 2020 led to a shift in investor risk appetite and increased financial volatility; this resulted in a flight to safety and tightened liquidity conditions for emerging market economies.
Tourism has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic; extensive travel restrictions and the fear of infection led to a sharp fall in international tourist arrivals in Asia.
The Asia Regional Integration Center (ARIC) is an ongoing technical assistance project of the Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department (ERCD). Following the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis and the contagion evident around the region, ADB was asked to use its knowledge-based expertise to help monitor the recovery and report objectively on potential vulnerabilities and policy solutions. With the ASEAN+3 process just starting, ADB provided technical assistance beginning in 1999—to create the Asia Recovery Information Center, the precursor to ARIC.
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