Meeting at the 21st World Economic Forum on East Asia, in Bangkok, Thailand, a panel of business, government and civil society leaders agreed that the region’s increasing links with the global economy meant it would be even more exposed to global risks.
In particular, while many countries in East Asia have very strong supply chains, final demand for products is outside Asia.
Naoyuki Shinohara, deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said: ‘If there is a huge stress in Europe, there will also be a major impact on trade financing and project financing in East Asia.’
Attendees agreed that a key factor in mitigating risk is connectivity – how well different sectors in a country work together, and how closely nations collaborate when both preparing for and reacting to a crisis.
Emirsyah Satar, president and chief executive of PT Garuda Indonesia, said: ‘In any natural disaster, business had better sit down with government.’
Companies could contribute to crisis response planning by running simulations and using technology prevent, plan for and react to crises, the WEF said.
Masmami Yamamoto, president of Fujitsu and co-chair of the event, added: ‘We have to come up with ways to minimise the impact on the global supply chain. This is the task for the global economy.’
However, attendees also noted that there were limits to how much any country could prepare for the unexpected. Geoff Riddell, regional chairman for Zurich Insurance Group in Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, said: ‘However much preparation is done, nature can overwhelm it. And however much we try to protect settlements from natural disasters, that is not always enough.’