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  • Singapore business community joins Asia business leaders in call for super connected Asia for sustainable development

Singapore business community joins Asia business leaders in call for super connected Asia for sustainable development

  • Business leaders at 10th Asian Business Summit calls for closer collaboration between Asian economies for inclusive and sustainable development.
  • The delegation also strongly supports and recognises the importance of the World Trade Organisation's and its rules-based multilateral trading system.
Wednesday, 30 October 2019 [Singapore] Representing the Singapore and ASEAN business community, Mr Ho Meng Kit, CEO of the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and Dr Robert Yap, Singapore Chairman of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC), participated in the 10th Asian Business Summit (ABS) in Hanoi, Vietnam on 17 October.

Jointly hosted by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), the ABS gathered leaders from 12 key business chambers and economic organisation in Asian countries, including Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Taiwan (China), the Philippines, and Vietnam. The annual summit, initiated by the Keidanren in 2010, is held on a rotational basis in big Asian economies.

Themed “Asia Super Connect for Sustainable Development”, this year’s ABS witnessed two overarching panel discussions that highlighted the need for comprehensive cooperation between economies in the digital era, as well as continued commitment to free and open trade for sustainable growth.

In his opening remarks, Chairman and President of VCCI, Dr Vu Tien Loc, highlighted Asia as one of the world’s leading economies. He also congratulated Singapore’s efforts in taking the lead to advance the APEC Services Competitiveness Roadmap (ASCR), which is critical to trade growth in the region. In addition, Vice Chair of Keidanren, Mr Sumi Shuzo spoke on Society 5.0, a Japanese initiative that not only focuses on developing its digital infrastructure for economic growth, but also addresses Japan’s societal challenges such as its ageing population.

In the first panel session on Digital Asia: Collaboration for Innovative and Sustainable Development, SBF CEO Mr Ho shared on the accelerated advancement of technology in the world, particularly in Southeast Asia where its internet economy grew to US$100 billion this year.

He said, “Despite tripling in size over last four years, the region will need to address the risks of a digital divide for the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the trade system to propel Asia further into a digital-driven economy.”

Participants also called for a comprehensive data governance to be put in place, noting the detrimental impact should the cybersecurity of businesses be breached.

In the second panel session on Global Asia: Partnership for Inclusive Development, Dr Yap, who is also YCH Group’s Executive Chairman, spoke as a panellist on the importance of strengthening regional collaboration through infrastructure and human resource. He called for Asian economies to persist with infrastructure development to improve the region’s interconnectivity. Members, who reaffirmed Dr Yap’s statement, also included the importance of expanding communication channels to ensure trade growth among the economies in the region.

In an ABS joint statement (see Annex A), the business leaders called on closer collaboration between the region’s economies on inclusive and sustainable development. As Asian businesses enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, company stakeholders should leverage technological change to build smarter societies in the region and ensure sustainable development.

In the joint statement, the business leaders reaffirmed “the importance of the role of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and a rules-based multilateral trading system, encouraging trade growth especially for MSMEs.”

They also called “for the immediate resolution of the crisis in the WTO’s dispute settlement system, which plays a key role in WTO. It is also important for the reform of the existing WTO rules to keep up to date to the modern business models especially in the current digital economy.”

Keidanren will host the 11th Asian Business Summit in Tokyo, Japan in 2020.

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