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Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Mr. Tidiane Kinda, Kaustubh Chahande, Hua Chai, Yadian Chen, Alessia De Stefani, Yosuke Kido, Fan Qi, and Alexandre Sollaci

COVID-19 hit on the back of weakening productivity growth in many advanced and emerging Asian countries, a trend that could be exacerbated by the pandemic. Interestingly, productivity growth in the region was slowing even amid increased innovation effort, as proxied by spending on research and development (R&D) and number of patents. A key element underpinning this disconnect is the growing dispersion in productivity growth, innovation effort, and digitalization across and within sectors. Asia has risen to become an innovation powerhouse, contributing to more than half of world patents. The rise of Asia as an innovation hub has been driven by a few frontier countries that have experienced a sharp increase in digital and computer-related patents, supported by solid R&D spending and a large share of researchers in the labor force. Within countries, R&D has become more concentrated in a smaller share of firms in frontier Asia. Empirical evidence using firm-level data highlight that the high concentration in R&D is associated with large dispersion in productivity. External exposure to competition and innovation, including through trade, supports innovation and help close productivity gaps for firms closer to the frontier. Non-frontier Asian developing countries have benefited from technology diffusion through a higher share of imported high-technology goods and by granting more patents to non-residents, supported by improvements in human capital and digital infrastructure. For these countries, further integration to the international economy, including global value chains, greater entrepreneurship, and expanding innovative labour supply could support productivity by encouraging innovation, including process innovation which is associated with larger productivity at the firm-level. Policies to foster innovation, reduce productivity gaps, and ultimately boost aggregate productivity can be grouped into two buckets. For countries close to the technological frontier, R&D tax credits and grants, business-university R&D collaboration, and lower trade barriers would support broader-based innovation and help close productivity gaps. For countries farther from the frontier, further improvements in digital infrastructure, skilled labor force, openness to trade and FDI, and patent protection, could promote resource reallocation to the most productive firms and enhance incentives for technological adoption, supporting diffusion and higher productivity.

Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Mr. Tidiane Kinda, Kaustubh Chahande, Hua Chai, Yadian Chen, Alessia De Stefani, Yosuke Kido, Fan Qi, and Alexandre Sollaci
COVID-19 hit on the back of weakening productivity growth in many advanced and emerging Asian countries, a trend that could be exacerbated by the pandemic. Interestingly, productivity growth in the region was slowing even amid increased innovation effort, as proxied by spending on research and development (R&D) and number of patents. A key element underpinning this disconnect is the growing dispersion in productivity growth, innovation effort, and digitalization across and within sectors. Asia has risen to become an innovation powerhouse, contributing to more than half of world patents. The rise of Asia as an innovation hub has been driven by a few frontier countries that have experienced a sharp increase in digital and computer-related patents, supported by solid R&D spending and a large share of researchers in the labor force. Within countries, R&D has become more concentrated in a smaller share of firms in frontier Asia. Empirical evidence using firm-level data highlight that the high concentration in R&D is associated with large dispersion in productivity. External exposure to competition and innovation, including through trade, supports innovation and help close productivity gaps for firms closer to the frontier. Non-frontier Asian developing countries have benefited from technology diffusion through a higher share of imported high-technology goods and by granting more patents to non-residents, supported by improvements in human capital and digital infrastructure. For these countries, further integration to the international economy, including global value chains, greater entrepreneurship, and expanding innovative labour supply could support productivity by encouraging innovation, including process innovation which is associated with larger productivity at the firm-level. Policies to foster innovation, reduce productivity gaps, and ultimately boost aggregate productivity can be grouped into two buckets. For countries close to the technological frontier, R&D tax credits and grants, business-university R&D collaboration, and lower trade barriers would support broader-based innovation and help close productivity gaps. For countries farther from the frontier, further improvements in digital infrastructure, skilled labor force, openness to trade and FDI, and patent protection, could promote resource reallocation to the most productive firms and enhance incentives for technological adoption, supporting diffusion and higher productivity.
Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Mr. Tidiane Kinda, Kaustubh Chahande, Hua Chai, Yadian Chen, Alessia De Stefani, Yosuke Kido, Fan Qi, and Alexandre Sollaci
International Monetary Fund. Policy Development and Review Dept.
The membership is facing significant challenges, including high inflation, rising food and energy insecurity, elevated debt levels, tightening financial conditions, volatile capital flows and exchange rates, and intensifying geopolitical fragmentation. To this end, the Executive Board Work Program focuses on policy responses and bilateral and multilateral advice to stabilize the global economy and build resilience, critical financial assistance to those countries most affected by these shocks, and capacity development support to help implement policy advice. More than ever, the Fund has a key role to play in promoting international cooperation and collaborative solutions to shared challenges, including those related to climate, digitalization, and inclusion.
Ms. Monique Newiak, Mr. Abdoul A Wane, and Mr. Alex Segura-Ubiergo

Abstract

Governance and corruption issues have taken the center stage in international discussions, especially after the adoption by the IMF in 2018 of a new framework for engagement on governance and corruption. Sound institutions that guarantee integrity in the management of public affairs are critical on the path toward higher and more inclusive growth. Corruption undermines the quality of institutions, weakens the effectiveness of government programs, and compromises social trust in government policies. Indeed, countries around the world that improved their governance systems are reaping a “governance dividend,” and governance-enhancing reformist countries in sub-Saharan Africa include Botswana, Rwanda, and Seychelles. In addition, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Angola demonstrate that important reforms are possible, including in fragile environments. The importance of good governance has acquired even more importance as countries try to introduce policies to fight the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Special attention to governance in an emergency context, including situations associated with conflict, other health crises and natural disasters, is therefore essential. Innovation and new technologies are critical instruments that policymakers can use in their efforts to improve governance and transparency.

José Garrido, Ms. Yan Liu, Joseph Sommer, and Juan Sebastián Viancha
This note explores the interactions between new technologies with key areas of commercial law and potential legal changes to respond to new developments in technology and businesses. Inspired by the Bali Fintech Agenda, this note argues that country authorities need to closely examine the adequacy of their legal frameworks to accommodate the use of new technologies and implement necessary legal reform so as to reap the benefits of fintech while mitigating risks. Given the cross-border nature of new technologies, international cooperation among all relevant stakeholders is critical. The note is structured as follows: Section II describes the relations between technology, business, and law, Section III discusses the nature and functions of commercial law; Section IV provides a brief overview of developments in fintech; Section V examines the interaction between technology and commercial law; and Section VI concludes with a preliminary agenda for legal reform to accommodate the use of new technologies.
Mr. Alberto Chong and Ms. Luisa Zanforlin
Evidence from historical and epidemiological literatures show that epidemics tend to spread in the population according to a logistic pattern. We conjecture that the impact of new technologies on output follows a pattern of spread not unlike that of typical epidemics. After reaching a critical mass, rates of growth will accelerate until the marginal benefits of technology are fully utilized. We estimate spline functions using a GMM dynamic panel methodology for 79 countries. We use imports of machinery and equipment as a fraction of gross domestic product as a proxy for the process of technological adoption. Results confirm our hypothesis.
Mr. Paulo A Medas

Abstract

Corruption remains one of the main obstacles to sustainable and inclusive economic development. Its consequences for the functioning of the economy and people’s lives can be large. When prevalent, corruption undermines the core activities of the state through several channels. It distorts fiscal policy and operations, including the collection of taxes and how those taxes are used; hampers central bank operations and financial supervision; weakens the quality of market regulations; and undermines the rule of law. Corruption is particularly harmful for fiscal policy as it undermines the ability of governments to deliver effective policies and services that promote equitable and long-term economic growth. Governments need to invest in comprehensive and persistent efforts to strengthen institutions and adopt aggressive anticorruption strategies.

Mokhtar Benlamine and Mrs. Ruby Randall

Abstract

As of 2020 Comoros faced governance weaknesses in several areas that are critical for macroeconomic performance, including administrating the civil service, managing fiscal operations, ensuring the rule of law, and implementing AML/CFT measures. Addressing these challenges would help spur inclusive growth and yield significant development gains, including by lowering vulnerability to corruption, increasing revenue mobilization, and reducing the reliance on volatile windfall revenue.