The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has estimated that about 65 million jobs will be created yearly in the Asia Pacific until 2025, resulting from the increased use of digital technologies amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

ADB chief economist Yasuyuki Sawada said the expansion of the digital sector would contribute to an average annual gain of 26.8 per cent in Asia Pacific’s gross domestic product (GDP), 15.6 per cent in trade, and 26.1 per cent in employment over the next five years. Regional trade is also expected to increase by US$1 trillion yearly over the next five years as digital economy growth in Asia is projected to accelerate; providing opportunities to bolster economic growth, build businesses, create jobs and address socioeconomic challenges. “Overall, the global digital sector is expected to expand by an average of roughly US$617 billion annually, or US$3.1 trillion in total, from 2021 to 2025,” he said during the virtual launch of the Asian Impact Webinar: Asian Economic Integration Report (AEIR) 2021 today.

Meanwhile, Sawada said the digital sector in Asia is anticipated to grow by about US$184 billion annually, or about US$919 billion in the next five years. “Accelerated digital transformation can potentially boost global output, trade and commerce, as well as employment,” he explained.

He also noted that Asia Pacific countries have leveraged rapid technological progress and digitalisation to recover and reconnect with the global economy during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. “Technology is helping to forge new global linkages, which offer enormous economic opportunities, but also present new risks and challenges,” Sawada said.

According to the report, if the digital sector expands by 20 per cent, the global GDP would increase by an average of US$4.3 trillion yearly from 2021 to 2025, or by $21.4 trillion in five years, where more than 40 per cent of the increase in global output would be accounted for by Asia. “Nevertheless, recent firm-level activity in mergers and acquisitions in the region have shown signs of recovery, as countries start to reopen and ease some pandemic-related restrictions,” the report said.

It said governments in the region also need to focus on data privacy and security, taxation, partnership between public and private institutions, and regional cooperation to better secure the digital sector.

The ADB’s AEIR 2021 focuses on Asia Pacific’s progress in regional cooperation and integration, and examines the pandemic’s initial impact on trade, cross-border investment, financial integration, and the movement of people.


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