RCEP, AU countries can integrate into mutually beneficial community: Prof Sachs

2024-01-29 Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Prof Jeffrey D. Sachs, president of UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, delivers his remarks at the keynote luncheon of the 17th Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong on Jan 24, 2024. (ANDY CHONG/CHINA DAILY)

A vast number of countries in Asia, Africa and the Pacific can integrate into a community that can benefit each other, said Professor Jeffrey D Sachs, chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Sachs told the 17th Asian Financial Forum on Jan 24 in Hong Kong that countries and groups better look at things in the next one or two decades rather than only focusing on short-term competition.

He said he hopes the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the African Union (AU) and other groups will be able to come together, help and benefit each other

He delivered this keynote address at the luncheon session moderated by Ronnie Chan Chi-chung, chair of the Hang Lung Properties Limited. The two held a discussion on a wide range of economic and political affairs.

China has a great deal of experience on economic growth, while Africa, deficient in infrastructure, has a population similar to China. China's Belt and Road Initiative not only brings more market opportunities to Africa, but also can solve its problems of poverty and lack of infrastructure and help Africa's modernization enter the fast lane, he said.

According to him, U.S. protectionist intervention is one important factor that causes the slowdown in China's economic growth, but he believes that this will not pose a huge threat.

The Chinese mainland has maintained an economic growth rate at around 5.2 percent. In addition, Sachs said it will continue to have a low-cost advantage in technological innovation, such as selling new energy vehicles at lower prices, while the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region can also provide low-cost financing in areas such as 5G, solar energy and electric vehicles.

To harness the tremendous possibilities of this dynamic technological age, international collaboration will be required to resolve the challenges, the professor noted.

"The human part is to understand that we have common challenges. We have common beliefs. We have absolutely no reason for any conflict in this world," he said.

Professor Sachs and Ronnie C. Chan, chair of Hang Lung Properties Limited, discuss issues related to China, the United States and Ukraine, among others, at the 17th AFF in Hong Kong on Jan 24, 2024. (ANDY CHONG/CHINA DAILY)

He also affirmed the importance of Hong Kong as an international financial center. Hong Kong has often been able to reach new heights and breakthroughs, and has an important role to play in promoting and coordinating sustainable financing.

Yet the world faces challenges to sustain healthy growth. The Russia-Ukraine conflict would not have been able to continue if the United States had not intervened and assisted Ukraine in weaponry and funding, according to Sachs.

Also, the damage caused by such wars to sustainability counts much more than that brought about by climate change, he said, adding that in a war-torn land, all environmental sustainability is destroyed.

The Joe Biden administration and the British government have been reported as being behind the sinking of a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia in the first half of 2022 that would have otherwise ended the conflict and bloodshed. Pentagon officials have publicly said their aim was to weaken Russia strategically without mentioning the cost of more lives and the disruptions of world economy.

Sachs said he understood that the leaders of the former Soviet Union, then USSR, and the United States had agreements that the NATO would keep away from expanding into former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe after the breakdown of the USSR. But the following U.S. administrations kept breaking its promises and pushed NATO to the doorstep of Russia.

The keynote speech of Prof Sachs discussed how responsible capitalism can foster public-private partnerships and shape the new normal along the sustainable roadmap.

Any country with responsible capitalism should not start a real war on earth, nor a trade war. Instead, follow the four practices, he said.

The rightful practices include first allowing other countries to compete with it in economic and technological development; second, catering for social integration of those from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds; third, maintaining the sustainable development of the global environment; and fourth, advocating peace and cooperation to write a new chapter for the world.

Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po delivered the welcome remarks. Wu Bo, president and chief financial officer and member of the Management Committee, China International Capital Corporation Limited, also gave opening remarks.

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