Remarks by Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva at the Joint IMF-State Bank of Vietnam High-Level Conference

November 10, 2020

Good afternoon!

First, let me thank you very much, Deputy Prime Minister Pham, Deputy Governor Nguyen, and the State Bank of Vietnam for organizing this conference today.

It is a great pleasure to join so many distinguished policymakers from Southeast Asia. Since I became Managing Director last year, I have had opportunities to engage with many of you, to learn from you and also to join forces as we all strive to overcome the worst recession since the Great depression caused by COVID-19. enormously from hearing your perspectives, especially on your policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is very fitting that we are meeting for this joint conference in Vietnam – a country with an impressive track record of achievements. Also, it is one of the very few economies on track to finish 2020 with positive GDP growth. I applaud Vietnam for its chairmanship of ASEAN this year; and for its great resilience during this pandemic. And I would like to extend my best wishes for a productive ASEAN Summit, which continues ASEAN’s long tradition of close regional cooperation.

We recognize that the crisis we are going through is first and foremost a human tragedy, causing tremendous suffering for people. But it is also an economic tragedy because we are seeing hard won gains in so many places being washed away by the impact of the pandemic. Unless we act decisively, unless we act together, there could be long-lasting scarring from this pandemic. We also recognize that we are faced with other shocks, especially caused by a climate crisis.

It breaks my heart to see the terrible impact of recent flooding on Vietnam, Cambodia, and Lao P.D.R. Building resilience of people and economies to shocks is a pressing imperative.

This conference gives us a chance to recognize both the gravity of the challenges we still face– and the opportunities we can seize with the right vision for the future. Now is the time to do it.

In the words of Vietnam’s great epic poem, The Tale of Kieu: Thank heaven we are here today, to see the sun through parting fog and clouds.

What do we need to see the sun through the clouds?

First: maintain policy support.

In the Asia-Pacific region overall, we are projecting -2.2 percent growth this year and 6.9 percent growth in 2020, slightly stronger than we had in June. With more news on vaccines, the horizon looks brighter. But the outlook continues to vary significantly by country depending on different factors, from reliance on contact-intensive activities to the scale of the policy response to sustain the recovery until we have the durable exit from the crisis.

Going forward, it will be critical for countries within their parameters and capacity to maintain crucial fiscal and monetary measures, and importantly, to continue to target those measures in a way that helps the most vulnerable people, the most vulnerable parts of the economy.

Second: work together.

For years, the world has admired the spirit of cooperation that defines the ASEAN Way. ASEAN’s embrace of openness and learning from one another over the years helped create thriving middle classes and raise living standards for millions of people. Last year, the 10 ASEAN countries contributed 10 percent of global growth—just as much as the 19 countries in the Euro zone.

What we would like to see is to coordinate and synchronize our measures so we can give a stronger boost to the recovery process.

Third: build forward better.

We are very keen to see that we overcome obstacles to growth such as lower productivity, and that we are building a more resilient future, more resilient to the other crisis that is upon us – the climate crisis. Green investments and digital investments are creating a basis to overcome the impact of this crisis. They are also great to build sustainable and inclusive growth for the future. With the right policies, we can come out the other side of this crisis stronger.

I look forward to the opportunity today to discuss more specifically what the right policies are to come through in a way that makes us more resilient and more inclusive for all people in our countries.

Thank you.

IMF Communications Department

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