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Professor Surakiart‘s Views on Post-pandemic World
Origin:Boao Forum for Asia      Time:2020-05-14 16:08:15    Views:141

Professor Surakiart Sathirathai, Board Member of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), and Former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Thailand, published an article which outlines his opinions on the challenges and opportunities for South East Asia in the post-pandemic world, highlighting issues including food and health security, regional cooperation, business, lifestyles, governance as well as the world economy, while raising his concerns towards a growing nationalism and proposing an array of solutions for these issues.

 

Main Points

1. Food and Health Security

(i) Food sufficiency and safety, medical technology and self-sufficiency of supplies will be high on the agenda of international fora and national strategy of Asean member states.

(ii) Government needs to focus on the strengthening of its domestic economy and building self-sufficiency in sectors such as food and health to avoid facing shortfalls in future crises.

(iii) COVID-19 facilitates academic institutions in the region to work together to manufacture medical equipments and spurred greater collaboration between medical and engineering schools and between academia and private sectors.

 

2. The Rise of Nationalism

(i) When SARS hit South East Asia countries, countries quickly coordinated and unanimously adopt a set of common public health standards and uniform measures at airports, seaports and border checkpoints to contain the contagion, while now, each country has gone its own way in response to the coronavirus, and many countries around the world are more focused on tackling the pandemic domestically, within its own borders. Though health officials and sectoral ministers in Asean countries have been in close touch. There is upsurge of Covid-19-related nationalism, pushing aside international cooperation, which should be of great concern.

(ii) He calls for strengthening international cooperation and the role of multilateralism in response to COVID-19 which knows no boundaries.

 

3.  Multilateral Institutions VS. Regional Organizations

(i) Despite the disappointment with international cooperation during the pandemic and the shortcomings and limited role of multilateral institutions such as the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization, World Trade Organization or the World Bank in quickly fostering cooperation, there are some active cooperation among regional organizations including Asian and Asian +3, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the African Union, the European Union and the Organization of American States.

(ii) The post Covid-19 world may not be a bipolar one, but rather likely to be a multipolar world, with regional organizations becoming key players. In future, some maybe military superpower, some may be superpower in economic or technical or other fields, but none will be superpower in all areas. “Fragmented globalization seems to define the world at present and probably after the Covid-19”.

(iii) Perhaps regional organizations are to become the leading institutions for global cooperation.

 

4. Life Style and Business   

(i) With the rise of digital technology in areas such as communications and conferences, education, financial services, medicine, lifestyle and retail, businesses associated with these technologies will benefit immensely.

(ii) Conventional tourism, conventional export-oriented growth strategies, conventional manufacturing industries and conventional logistic deliveries are the losers in this great disruption.

(iii) The biggest challenge is to determine the magnitude of such changes. The only certainty is uncertainty.

 

5. The World Economy is Reopening to a “New Normal”

(i) Both massive fiscal and monetary stimuli were seen in almost all countries. Positive responses of the financial markets to central banks' monetary policies and governments' fiscal stimulus don’t last long when confronted with spikes in the number of Covid-19 cases.

(ii) Governments are confronted with finding the right balance between public health policy and economic policy, which is not easy

(iii) Countries struggling to keep financing the fiscal and monetary measures launched to fight the pandemic. The "new normal" is something thinkers and policymakers around the world need to grapple with and come up with ways to ensure that people can better prepare themselves for the upheavals and not be left behind.

 

6. Call for International cooperation

(i) The changes in the international strategic landscape - with their various political, economic and technological implications - reinforce the need for a redesign of Asean's strategy for the future.

(ii) Asean leaders and ministers should increase cooperation with food and health security should be an urgent priority on the agenda.

(iii) Asean should step up cooperation to promote regionalism as a way to fight the pandemic.

(iv) Asean governments need support in e-government and e-education, to reskill and upskill their people to match the new normal in order to survive in the post-Covid-19 world.

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