The Connected Economy
Monday 13th October 2003 - 2:00pm - 3:15pm
The Connected Economy
East Asia Economic Summit 2003
We are getting used to the global connections between economies financially, politically and socially where small scale disasters result in global impacts. How can we take advantage or benefit and leverage on globalization, interlinked economies, and opportunities from the various geographies and sectors? How do we try to alleviate the impacts of these one off events?
David Arkless, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Manpower, United Kingdom, pointed out that without doubt, the region is heading towards more unity. Arkless drew a parallel with the birth of the euro and recent discussions on whether the region will have a euro equivalent to a "connected economy".
Hideaki Mukaiyama, President, Japan National Tourist Organization, Japan, focused on the changing faces of tourism in Asia and restoring consumer confidence. In respect to the SARS episode, the lessons learned include the need for clear communication and timely disclosure of information, the importance for media corporations to disseminate accurate information, the need for flexibility in the tourism Industry for quick reaction to crisis, for the government and private sector to work hand in hand, and to provide a good infrastructure for travellers. The challenges identified include liberalization of the tourism industry in terms of investment, and cost and security management.
Kerstin Leitner, Assistant Director General, Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments, World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, stated that the SARS epidemic showed that the region has an interdependent economy but not necessarily a connected one. Measures taken were very different and some even contradicted one another. Leitner states that the "travel advisory", as a system, has to be taken more seriously. Non standardization caused many unnecessary restrictions. As such, the true challenge is for governments to come together and learn how to become interconnected.
Anthony Venus, Chief Executive Officer, Strategic Intelligence Research, Singapore, focused on political events and the comparison of risks of investment in different countries. Recent events like terrorism, the Iraq war and SARS are of different magnitudes but all have considerable impacts in different parts of the world. These effects include increased security taxes in travelling and insurance premiums, increased oil prices and overall economy dip. While globalization has its benefits, it has drawbacks as well.
Christopher Ng, Regional Secretary, Union Network International Asia & Pacific Regional Office, Singapore, talked about the recent collapse of the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Cancun, Mexico, and how it is a source of both fear and hope.
"A global, democratic and multilateral system of rules and rule making accepted by both the weak and strong nations is mankind s best shield against the excesses of a few," said Ng. The results of Cancun were also a source of hope as it shows that the developing countries found the collective will to say "no" no to inequality, no to imbalance, and no to liberalization without global reforms. The failure of Cancun is an opportunity for us to review the globalization process. There should be more interconnected discussions to share information and experiences between governments to bring about mutually beneficial solutions. Alexander J. Eu Yee Kui, Managing Director, Business Development, Ipac Financial Planning, Singapore, added that protocols and a set of common practices are important to set a framework.
In conclusion, Arkless highlighted the importance of reflecting on proactive ways to find a balance for being connected and interlinked. It is apparent that synchronization is a problem and before it becomes a global issue, it may be a good idea to develop a system that is adaptable throughout the world. The state of the world s economy is indeed a global responsibility.
Related LinkEast Asia Economic Summit 2003