Geographies in Depth

Everything you need to know about the World Economic Forum on ASEAN 2018

Vietnamese youths display the national flag during a parade to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the end of the war in Ho Chi Minh City.  Vietnamese youths display the national flag during a parade to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the end of the war with the U. S. and its allies which reunified the country under communist rule in Ho Chi Minh City April 30, 2005. Vietnam commemorated 30 years since "The American War" ended on Saturday, no longer simply exulting in the victory but instead urging people to look to the future. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan PICTURES OF THE YEAR 2005 - RP6DRNAQQWAB

Flying the flag: For the second time in its history, the summit will take place in Viet Nam Image: REUTERS/Desmond Boylan

Ceri Parker
Previously Commissioning Editor, Agenda, World Economic Forum
Di Dai
Media Lead, Asia Pacific, World Economic Forum
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This article is part of: World Economic Forum on ASEAN

Collectively, the 10 countries that make up ASEAN – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos), Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam – are the world’s fifth biggest economy. It’s a bloc that has undergone an extraordinary transformation in the half a century since it was founded, and that now lies in the spotlight as global power tilts towards Asia.

ASEAN at a glance

This month, leaders from every sector will be meeting for the World Economic Forum on ASEAN, with a focus on the innovation needed to propel the region through the next phase of its growth. From tech unicorns to tensions in the South China Sea, the biggest opportunities and obstacles ahead will be on the agenda in Ha Noi, Viet Nam.

“Alongside rising geopolitical uncertainty, ASEAN countries must grapple with the disruptions of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” explain Justin Woods, leading the meeting for the World Economic Forum, and Børge Brende, President of the Forum.

“The exponential development of new technologies such as AI, advanced robotics, precision medicine, autonomous vehicles and many others are not just changing, but are transforming economies, businesses, societies and politics.”

When and where will the meeting take place?

The meeting will take place from 11-13 September in Ha Noi, Viet Nam, under the theme ASEAN 4.0: Entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Since it’s 2018, it will also take place on the social media platform of your choice. Find out how to follow #asean18 on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and more here, and visit our event page for livestream video of all the key sessions and liveblog summaries of breaking news, from 11 September.

Who is going?

A record number of heads of state from the region are expected this year. The full list of ASEAN heads of state or government who have confirmed so far are:

· Cambodia: Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen

· Indonesia: President Joko Widodo

· Laos: Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith

· Malaysia: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad

· Myanmar: State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi

· Singapore: Prime Minister Lee Hsien-Loong

· The Philippines: President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

· Viet Nam: Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc

They are joined by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka, as well as senior cabinet ministers and politicians including:

· Republic of Korea: Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha, who is also a Co-Chair of the meeting

· Chile: Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero Espinoza

The meeting’s Co-Chairs, who will steer the discussions, are:

· Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Chief Executive Officer, Plan International, United Kingdom

· Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance of Indonesia

· Kang Kyung-Wha, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea

· Nguyen Manh Hung, Acting Minister of Information and Communications of Viet Nam

· Nazir Razak, Chairman, CIMB Group Holdings, Malaysia

· Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company, Hong Kong SAR.

They are among 900 political, business, academic and civil society leaders, including 75 entrepreneurs selected in our competition to highlight the region’s most innovative start-ups.

Have you read?

What will they be talking about?

The future of work will be a big topic. In ASEAN, the labour force is forecast to expand by 11,000 workers every day for the next 15 years. At the same time, industrial robots already out-compete low-skilled manufacturing labour; artificial intelligence threatens ASEAN’s service jobs; and self-driving vehicles are hitting the road in South-East Asia. How will the region’s growing workforce find jobs?

A family gets their photograph taken by a robot inside the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung, South Korea, February 15, 2018.    REUTERS/Brian Snyder - RC1CA01A7F60
Facing the future: A family greet a robot at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics Image: REUTERS/Brian Snyder - RC1CA01A7F60

Geopolitics, innovation, entrepreneurship, trade and inclusive economic growth will also be high on the agenda.

What are the biggest sessions to look forward to?

Once the meeting starts, you can find the full public programme and watch our livestream here. Key sessions to look out for include:

ASEAN Priorities in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

September 12, 10.15-11.30 ICT (local time, ie UTC+7h)

Leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar), Rodrigo Roa Duterte (Philippines), Hun Sen (Cambodia), Lee Hsien-Loong (Singapore), Mahathir bin Mohamad (Malaysia), Nguyen Xuan Phuc (Viet Nam), Thongloun Sisoulith (Laos) and Joko Widodo (Indonesia) discuss the economy of the future.

Asia's Geopolitical Outlook

September 13, 09:00-10:00 ICT

At a pivotal moment for the geopolitics of the region, join leaders including Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, South Korea’s foreign minister, Kang Kyung-Wha and Viet Nam’s foreign minister Pham Binh Minh.

A Conversation with Tun Mahathir bin Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia

September 13, 12:45-13:10 ICT

Find out what lies ahead for one of the region’s rising economic powers in a conversation between the Prime Minister and Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

Closing Plenary

September 13, 13.15-14:00 ICT

What just happened? The meeting’s Co-Chairs digest the developments and look ahead to the future. You can also enjoy a performance from one of the region’s leading artists, the Vietnamese singer Le Cat Trong Ly, who draws inspiration from her country’s folk songs.


How do I get up to speed with the region?

You can read our series of blogs here, including a summary of the seven key challenges for the future of ASEAN and what a Malaysian bookshop tells us about the region’s rising middle class.

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Geographies in DepthEconomic GrowthGeo-Economics and Politics
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