World Economic Forum on East Asia 2011
It was fitting that the 20th anniversary of the World Economic Forum on East Asia should have been celebrated in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. With 230 million people, the country is the most populous in South-East Asia and one of the founding members of ASEAN. Along with Thailand and the Republic of Korea, Indonesia was among the economies in East Asia that were hardest hit by the regional financial crisis of 1997-1998.
In the discussions at the World Economic Forum on East Asia, participants outlined eight long-term challenges for the region:
- Achieving food, energy and water security while protecting the environment
- Addressing persistent infrastructure deficiencies and bottlenecks, particularly in financing projects
- Driving new growth and creating jobs, especially to accommodate the swelling ranks of young people in countries with youth “bulges” such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam
- Bridging income disparities and insuring that growth is inclusive
- Preventing conflicts and strengthening regional security
- Accommodating China’s rise and managing its emergence as it shifts over the long term from its focus on exports and fixed-asset spending to a more consumption-driven growth model
- Coping with and responding effectively and cooperatively to natural disasters and ensuring that vital supply chains in Asia are secure
- Deepening regional cooperation and integration by finding ways to turn Asia’s great diversity into an advantage and preventing the rise of intolerance and extremism
These challenges require globalist responses. Countries in the region must work together to shape effective collaborative approaches. They cannot be held back by short-term thinking, election cycle pressures, preferences for national solutions over cooperative global or regional ones, or the reluctance in the West to implement tough structural reforms and recast the international system to give greater voice and representation to emerging nations.