12th Annual Conference Of Asia-Pacific Economic Association Hosted By IMI Kolkata

Thursday 14th July, 2016 saw much hustle and excitement at IMI Kolkata campus as the B-School prepared to host the 12th Annual Conference of the Asia-Pacific Economic Association. The prestigious event saw a host of dignitaries and eminent personalities from the academic world across the globe. The Conference began with the presentation of the bouquet of flowers to the dignitaries on the dais followed by the lighting of the ceremonial lamp.

Dr. Arindam Banik, Director, IMI Kolkata addressed the august gathering with his views on economic implications of trade relation in the Asia Pacific region that existed since the ancient times. He then spoke on the 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.

The APEA was formed in aftermath of the Asian Crisis of 1997, when the need 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. This conference in India is a significant landmark as the association recognizes the impact of India as an emerging economy in Asia and the new growth driver for this region.

Dr. Un Chan Chung, Chairman, Korea Institute of Shared Growth, 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 (1976) and an avid baseball fan, had taught for 31 years at the 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 spoke mainly of the Korean economy and its challenges in his keynote address. He talked of how after the end of conflict in 1953 in the Korean Peninsula, there was sustainable economic growth from the 1960’s till 2010’s. The rise of conglomerates and exports were the major growth drivers during this time. Presently, as of 2015, South Korea is the 11th largest economy in the world GDP wise with $1.38 trillion dollar. Samsung alone contributes to 10% of the GDP. Growth has slowed down in Korea over the past 7 years and there are various reasons that can be attributed to the situation but according to him, the heart of the problem lies in difference between the conglomerates and the SME’s. Conglomerates take undue advantage of their size and market power to buy out SME’s. 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 an interactive question answer session with the audience.

The second day of the conference saw distinguished speakers coming together to discuss on the economic integration of Asia. The plenary session was chaired by Dr. Eiji Ogawa of the Hitotsubashi University. The speakers present discussed and presented their views as to what drives the Asian economy, how trade integration in the region has intensified over the past years, China’s One-Belt and One-Road initiative, and what Asia could learn from European Union and its shortcomings. Although Asia is a powerhouse in manufacturing and services, we have to develop the financial sector and its associative role in the greater part of the integration. The interactive and enlightening session came to an end with a closing speech by Dr. Chung Moo Koo, who showed his gratitude for successful hosting and organizing of the conference by IMI-Kolkata management and invited everyone present for the next year’s conference at Kangwon National University.