Anti-government protesters in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 9, 2022

Sri Lankans are crying for food, fuel and a government they can trust: The world needs to listen


By Elizabeth Holbourne, Speechwriter and Editor, OECD Development Centre


When I introduce myself as half Sri Lankan, people’s eyes usually light up as they tell me about the wonderful holiday they had there with family and friends. In a country once seen as one of the most rapidly developing nations in South Asia, Sri Lanka’s economic crisis spiralling into a humanitarian crisis could very well be a bellwether of what is to come in many other parts of the world.

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Asia’s rising middle classes champions for more inclusive societies

Are Asia’s rising middle classes champions for more inclusive societies?


By Antoine Bonnet, Junior Economist & Alexandre Kolev, Head of Unit, Social Cohesion, OECD Development Centre


Wealthier middle classes are emerging across Asia. While they are highly heterogeneous across the region, their improved economic status could translate into greater ability to engage in public life, exercise voice, and influence decision-making. However, would these middle classes, if truly empowered, push for a policy agenda that is well aligned with the interests of the more fragile communities? Our recent research suggests this cannot be taken for granted.

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Leveraging Asia’s investment potential for a green recovery


By Jong Woo Kang, Principal Economist, Economic Research and Co-operation Department, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Rolando Avendano, Economist, Economic Research and Co-operation Department, Asian Development Bank (ADB)


Developing Asia is estimated to have fended off the scarring impact of investment decline relatively well during the pandemic compared to other developing regions such as Latin America and Africa. For example, the People’s Republic of China and India still posted a positive growth rate in FDI in 2020. Meanwhile global FDI flows collapsed in 2020, falling by 35%, their lowest level since 2005, according to the UN. The impact was felt the most in developed countries where FDI declined by 58%, while developing countries weathered the storm better, with an 8% decline. Latest estimates for the first quarter of 2021 suggest an overall 10% decline for global FDI flows and 12% for Asian FDI inflows, according to firm level data. Adding to this is the fact that the pandemic has prompted economies, in the region and globally, to implement stricter screening and regulatory measures to oversee FDI. While the arguments for these restrictive measures are compelling from the perspective of national security or public health, economic impact and implications should be taken into account. Policy makers in the region could also seize the moment as an opportunity to introduce higher social and environmental standards for investment. 

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The European Union as a development superpower

By Ambassador Dr Mohan Kumar, Chairman, RIS, Dean/Professor, Jindal Global University, Sonipat, India, Former Indian Ambassador to France1

It is a truism that the European Union (EU) welcomes, prefers and supports a multipolar world; a strategic world view that is fully shared by its partners like India. More fundamentally, it is in the interest of the EU and its like-minded partners to ensure that the international order is not underpinned by a G2 system of government where the rules are essentially shaped by the US and China. This, however, entails the EU being strong enough to occupy an independent pole in the multipolar system. The EU is not quite there yet, but its friends and partners will certainly wish this to occur, sooner rather than later.

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Risk, resilience and recalibration in global value chains

By Adnan Seric, Michael Windisch, UNIDO, Holger Görg, Wan-Hsin Liu, Kiel Institute for the World Economy 1

COVID-19 supply chain disruptions provide an unprecedented opportunity to examine the resilience of global value chains. Data on trade flows and manufacturing output over the course of the pandemic suggest that the supply chain disruptions of early 2020 were of a temporary nature, and that extended global value chains currently interlinking many firms and economies seem to be resilient to trade and economic shocks at least to some extent.

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Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership: why should it involve the excluded LDCs?

By Mustafizur Rahman, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)

The world’s largest trading bloc, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), was signed in November 2020, counting 15 Asian member countries. Should the excluded countries, more specifically the low income and least developed countries (LDCs) of Asia, be worried about this development?

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Prospects for Chinese and Mexican South-South co-operation post-COVID-19

By Denghua Zhang, former diplomat and Research Fellow at the Australian National University and Carlos Cortés Zea, Coordinator of the AMEXCID-UNDP Co-operation Programme


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


The COVID-19 crisis is having profound impacts on the international political and economic order. It also provides an opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on past practices in each sector and learn from lessons to improve policies in the future. In this case, we examine the purposes, approaches and capacities of emerging providers (or Southern providers as some may call them) through the lens of China and Mexico—two major players in south-south co-operation (SSC).

Emerging providers, similar to traditional donors, provide aid to serve their own national interest. Motivations underpinning emerging providers’ efforts can vary significantly. The Chinese foreign aid programme is driven by a combination of factors including diplomatic competition with Taiwan, access to natural resources in recipient countries, image building as a responsible global power, and generating geopolitical support when its relationship with developed countries is strained. For example, China is currently taking a whole-of-government approach to conduct its COVID-19 diplomacy; an effort to improve its global image and garner support from developing countries in the face of growing pressure from developed countries over China’s handling of the crisis.  

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Which path for the Development Assistance Committee down the Belt and Road?

By Philippos Pierros, EU Delegation Minister-Counsellor, & Elliott Memmi, Freelance Research Analyst

belt-road
The Chinese Xiaomi Highway bridge, between Lao’s border town Boten, and Mengla, Yunnan, China. Photo: Shutterstock

At the April 2019 Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) conference in Beijing, a new life seemed to have been given to the Belt and Road project. After 2018, marked by increased foreign criticism, suspicion, and a subsequent reigning in of ambition by China, 2019 saw a renewed confidence — with President Xi Jinping himself stepping in to address the risks of unsustainable debt and corruption and promising a more “open, green, and clean” development co-operation model. In July, China endorsed the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment. And the China International Development Co-operation Agency (CIDCA) was promoted as the new government organ that would unify the tangled web of Chinese development actors. 2019 saw a sudden surge in new BRI agreements. Continue reading “Which path for the Development Assistance Committee down the Belt and Road?”

Building a Resilient Future for Asia after COVID-19: How can ADB help?

By Yasuyuki Sawada, Chief Economist and Director General, Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department, Asian Development Bank, Cyn-Young Park, Director for Regional Cooperation and Integration, Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department, Asian Development Bank, Rolando Avendano, Economist, Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department, Asian Development Bank


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


The latest estimates of the COVID-19 impact paint a grim picture of severe economic and job losses for developing Asia. ADB’s latest study estimates that the pandemic could cost the region from 6.2% to 9.3% in lost regional GDP, depending on whether it entails a 3-month or a 6-month containment scenario. This effect accounts for 30% of the expected overall decline in global output. The region is also expected to take the brunt of employment losses: the study projects losses from 6.0% (109 million) to 9.2% (167 million) of total employment, representing 70% of global employment losses. The shock is estimated to be seven times higher than during the global financial crisis.

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Unbundling Corruption: Why it matters and how to do it

By Yuen Yuen Ang, Political Scientist at the University of Michigan, and the author of How China Escaped the Poverty Trap and China’s Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Growth and Vast Corruption

Even amid a global pandemic, corruption persists and manifests itself in multiple forms, ranging from corrupt police extorting truck drivers delivering essential goods, rigged procurement contracts, to politically connected corporations receiving huge bailouts from the government while small businesses are starved of loans they desperately need to stay afloat. Although all of these actions are corrupt, they involve very different actors and stakes; some are transactional while others are extractive; and each brings about vastly different consequences.

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