15 Jul 2016 16:42 IST

IMI-K hosts 12th APEA conference, held in India for first time

(left to right) Dr. Un-Chang Chung and Dr. Chung Mo Koo with Dr. Banik

Keynote speaker Dr Un Chan Chung highlights concept of ‘shared growth’

IMI Kolkata hosted the 12th Annual Conference of the Asia-Pacific Economic Association on July 14. A host of dignitaries and eminent academics from across the globe participated in the event.

Addressing the gathering, Dr Arindam Banik, Director, IMI Kolkata, spoke of the economic implications of trade relations in the Asia-Pacific region that have existed since ancient times. He went on to describe Sino-Indian trade relations and the increased importance of regional integration in the wake of the Asian crisis of 1997.

Dr Shin-Ichi-Fukuda, Vice-President, APEA, in his welcome address, appreciated the IMI Kolkata team for hosting the 12th APEA “in such a vibrant dynamic campus” and expressed his optimism about the success of the conference.

Read: IMI Kolkata to host 12th Conference of Asia-Pacific Economic Association

The APEA was formed in aftermath of the Asian crisis of 1997, when the need arose for a forum that facilitated sharing of knowledge, dissemination of economic research and the necessity to make ‘new friends’ in the region.

This is the first time the APEA conference is being held in South Asia. The previous APEA conferences were held in Tokyo, Seattle, Hong Kong, Beijing, Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan. The conference being held in India is a significant landmark as the association recognises the impact of India as an emerging economy in Asia and as a new growth driver for this region.

Economic challenges

Dr Un Chan Chung, Chairman, Korea Institute of Shared Growth, and Former Prime Minister, Republic of Korea, delivered the keynote address during the inaugural session. Dr Chung Mo Koo, Professor, Kangwon National University, South Korea & Vice-President of APEA, introduced the former prime minister of South Korea to the gathering. Dr Un Chan Chung, a Ph.D. from Princeton University and an avid baseball fan, had taught for 31 years at Seoul University before taking up the prestigious public office. In his address he expressed his excitement at speaking in the city of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, and how the prophetic lines in the poem “Lamp of East” in 1929 on South Korea had moved the people of the country.

Dr Un Chan Chung highlighted aspects of the Korean economy and described its challenges in his keynote address. He said that after the end of conflict in the Korean Peninsula in 1953, there was sustainable economic growth from the 1960s till 2010s. “The rise of conglomerates and exports were major growth drivers during this time, which resulted in a growth of 11,000 times since 1953.” He said.

Shared growth

As of 2015, South Korea is the 11th largest economy in the world, with a $1.38-trillion GDP. Samsung alone contributes 10 per cent to the GDP. China and Korea were earlier collaborators, but with the rapid growth of China. they have become competitors. Korea is mainly an export-driven economy and has a trade surplus of $73.6 billion over China but now growth has slowed down in Korea over the past seven years. There are various reasons that can be attributed for the situation ,but according to him, “the heart of the problem lies in difference between the conglomerates and the SMEs. Conglomerates take undue advantage of their size and market power to buy out SMEs.”

Here comes the concept of ‘shared growth,’ of which he is the foremost proponent, which would help in not only “fair distribution of wealth but also of economic growth with systemic development.”

People have a misconception that shared growth means taking from the rich and giving to the poor, but it actually involves economic development whereby the pie gets bigger, thus increasing everyone’s profit share. This concept could also be successfully applied to other emerging economies as well. He concluded his address with a question-answer session with the audience.