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Good Governance Means Progress, Philippine Leader Says as East Asia Meeting Opens

  • The 23rd World Economic Forum on East Asia opened with Philippine President Aquino underscoring the importance of good governance in achieving equitable development
  • Vietnam’s Prime Minister warned of the risk of conflict over disputed territories and seas and the potential negative impact to the regional and global economies and to peace and stability in East Asia
  • For more information on the World Economic Forum on East Asia 2014:

Metro Manila, Philippines 22 May 2014 – Good governance and his government’s strenuous effort to address corruption, pursue structural reforms and invest in education and healthcare have been the keys to the recent economic success of the Philippines, the country’s president, Benigno Simeon Aquino III, told participants in the opening session of the 23rd World Economic Forum on East Asia. Noting that the Philippine economy grew by 7.2% last year despite significant natural disasters including Typhoon Haiyan, Aquino said that tackling corruption and waste was a promise he made to Filipinos when he campaigned for the presidency. “If we truly want to improve the lives of our people, we could not possibly shirk away from this challenge.” He added: “We have always said that good governance is good economics, and the results of our reforms on the economic end are proving us right.”

Over 700 business, government and civil society leaders from 40 economies are participating in the three-day meeting, which is being held in the Philippines for the first time. The theme is, Leveraging Growth for Equitable Progress. While two thirds of the world’s poor live in Asia, “the goal of equitable progress is within our reach,” President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia told participants, noting the importance of policies that focus on growth, the poor, jobs and the environment. He agreed with Aquino that investing in education is crucial: “The best way to achieve a society with mobility for all is education – the best anti-poverty weapon.”

The struggle for inclusive growth can never end, Vice-President of Myanmar, U Nyan Tun, added, saying that governments must tackle the visible sources of inequality, such as the lack of infrastructure, and the ones that are not always visible, such as environmental degradation. “Whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward,” he said. “We are moving forward with every step towards equitable development."

In his remarks, Nguyen Tan Dung, Prime Minister of Vietnam, stressed that to achieve development in the region, it is important to maintain peace and stability. He warned that recent action by China in disputed seas had raised serious concerns in Vietnam and led to street protests. These actions could threaten peace and freedom of navigation, Dung cautioned. “The risk of conflict could disrupt the huge flow of goods, have unforeseen impact on the regional and world economies, and may even reverse the trend of global economic recovery,” he said.

After Dung spoke, Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, responded with an appeal “to all parties to revert to discussion and dialogue to avert a situation that we all do not want to have”. Schwab said: “We are living in a global world. We need global partnerships. We need global peace.”

Before closing the session, Schwab summarized the key message that the three South-East Asian leaders had delivered: “Economic development without social progress is not sustainable. Social progress without economic development is not possible. That is the challenge we have in front of us all.”

The Co-Chairs of the World Economic Forum on East Asia are: Yolanda Kakabadse, President, WWF International, Switzerland; Takeshi Niinami, Chairman, Lawson, Japan; Global Agenda Council on the Role of Business; Atsutoshi Nishida, Chairman of the Board, Toshiba Corporation, Japan; James T. Riady, Chief Executive Officer, Lippo Group, Indonesia.

The 23rd World Economic Forum on East Asia, hosted with the support of the Government of the Philippines, will  take place in Manila on 21-23 May 2014. The theme of the meeting is Leveraging Growth for Equitable Progress.

The Co-Chairs of the World Economic Forum on East Asia are: Yolanda Kakabadse Navarro, President, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Switzerland; Takeshi Niinami, Chief Executive Officer and Representative Director, Lawson, Japan; Atsutoshi Nishida, Chairman of the Board, Toshiba Corporation, Japan; James T. Riady, Chief Executive Officer, Lippo Group, Indonesia; and Hamish Tyrwhitt, Chief Executive Officer, Leighton Holdings, Australia.

Notes to Editors

The World Economic Forum is an international institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation in the spirit of global citizenship. It engages with business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Forum is independent, impartial and not tied to any interests. It cooperates closely with all leading international organizations (