BOAO, Hainan, April 18 (Xinhua) -- The growth rate of the Asian economy in 2021 is expected to reach at least 6.5 percent and Asia should be a major engine for sustainable global recovery, according to reports released by the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Sunday.
The figure of 6.5 percent represents a significant rebound from the 1.7-percent contraction registered last year, said the report titled "Asian Economic Outlook and Integration Progress," citing data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
South Asia will see its economy grow 9.7 percent this year, the fastest growth in the region, the report said, citing the IMF.
East Asia is expected to see its economic growth hit 6.5 percent during the same period, the report showed.
The report attributed the relatively high growth rate to effective epidemic control and orderly production and work resumption in China and the Republic of Korea, among other factors.
The Asian economy has taken up a growing share of the world economy. Measured by purchasing power parity, the region's economy is expected to account for 47.9 percent of the world's total in 2021, up from 45.3 percent registered in 2017, according to the IMF data the report cited.
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian economy has presented many highlights and opportunities, according to the report.
Asian economies have introduced new measures to promote the digital economy, advancing digital infrastructure construction and international digital cooperation, among other initiatives.
The digital economy has helped promote production resumption, stabilized the economic situation, and become a new driving force for Asia's economic growth in the future.
The economic and trade cooperation among Asian countries has continued to deepen.
By February 2021, 186 regional trade agreements were in force, accounting for 54.9 percent of the global total, the report said, citing data from the World Trade Organization.
In particular, the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in November last year will further accelerate the Asian economic integration, said the report.
Going forward in 2021, the pandemic remains the major variable that will have a direct bearing on the performance of Asian economies, the report stressed.
Another report, also released Sunday, highlighted health, infrastructure, green, and digital deficits as the main factors restricting the sustainable recovery of Asia.
On the health deficit, rapidly distributing vaccines is a daunting task for Asia, according to the forum's Sustainable Development: Asia and the World Annual Report 2021.
Various health policies need to be maintained to flatten the pandemic curve, and public health infrastructure is also crucial to guaranteeing health security and epidemic preparedness, it said.
The world should prioritize vaccination and the establishment of mutual health data recognition arrangements, the report said. ■