COVID-19 and Beyond: Developmental and Economic Challenges Facing the Pacific Islands


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When: Jun 10 2020 - 5:00pm until Jun 10 2020 - 6:00pm
Where: Zoom Webinar

East-West Center in Washington and Asian Development Bank Logos

The East-West Center in Washington and Asian Development Bank invite you to an
Indo-Pacific Political Economy and Trade Virtual Seminar:

COVID-19 and Beyond: Developmental and Economic Challenges Facing the Pacific Islands


Mr. Ahmed M. Saeed
Vice-President for East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific,
Asian Development Bank

Dr. Satu P. Limaye (Moderator)
Vice President, East-West Center &
Director, East-West Center in Washington

East-West Center in Washington · COVID-19 and Beyond: Developmental and Economic Challenges Facing the Pacific Islands

The Pacific will be hard hit by the pandemic and resulting global slowdown. Forecasts back in February projected combined output in the subregion to decline by at least 0.3% in 2020, with strong downside risks if global and local restrictions persist. These risks have become real and expectations across several countries and international agencies point to a significant and generalized regional contraction. Countries that rely heavily on tourism and commodity exports have been particularly hard hit. The Cook Islands, Fiji, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu, which have large tourist industries, will see output shrink significantly this year. The large resource-exporters, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, will see declining growth due to lockdowns and lower commodity prices globally. As restrictions on the movement of labor and capital equipment delay infrastructure projects, growth will suffer in smaller economies. Further contraction is projected in 2021 in many Pacific economies, and the outlook will depend on improvements in tourism numbers, the commencement of delayed construction projects, and the resumption of labor mobility and cross-border trade. Inflation will edge down this year with fading demand. Even if COVID is prevented from entering the Pacific countries, recovery from the economic impacts will be heavily dependent on the region’s natural resources, including the ocean; its infrastructure; and its people. Finding ways to safely manage the flows of goods and people in the post-COVID world will be critical to ensure the development challenges that existed before the pandemic are not even more entrenched.

Speaker Biographies

Mr. Ahmed M. Saeed is the Vice-President (Operations 2) of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). He was appointed by ADB on 26 February 2019. Mr. Saeed is responsible for operations in the East Asia Department, the Southeast Asia Department, and the Pacific Department. Mr. Saeed was formerly the Managing Director and Head of Public Sector for Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan at JP Morgan Chase in Dubai, UAE. He previously worked in the US Department of the Treasury as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Middle East and Africa and as White House Fellow and Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury. He has experience working with many governments, central banks, finance ministries, and sovereign wealth funds on a broad range of economic and financial issues. Mr. Saeed holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Chicago Law School and a Master of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Satu Limaye is Vice President of the East-West Center and the Director of the East-West Center in Washington where he created and now directs the Asia Matters for America initiative and is the founding editor of the Asia Pacific Bulletin. He is also a Senior Advisor at CNA Corp (Center for Naval Analyses) and Senior Fellow on Asia History and Policy at the Foreign Policy Institute at Paul H. Nitze School of International Studies (SAIS). He is a magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Georgetown University and received his doctorate from Oxford University (Magdalen College) where he was a George C. Marshall Scholar. Recent publications include: “America’s ‘Pacific Principle’ in an Indivisible Pacific Islands Region,” (Asia-Pacific Bulletin); “Despite Stumbles, America’s Engagement with Southeast Runs Deep,” (Global Asia); Raging Waters: China, India, Bangladesh, and Brahmaputra Water Politics (Marine Corps University Press); Russia’s Peripheral Relevance to US-Indo Pacific Relations (Center for the National Interest).

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Sarah Wang