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· Ten countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) marked record participation at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
· World Economic Forum on ASEAN will be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 10-12 May
· More information about the World Economic Forum: www.weforum.org
Geneva, Switzerland 30 January 2017 – The 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) set record participation at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, earlier this month (17-20 January).
With 2017 marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN, the Annual Meeting was an occasion not only to reflect on the achievements of the past 50 years, but also to look to the future and consider the priorities for the region in the years ahead.
Among the more than 100 participants from South-East Asia were the prime ministers of Viet Nam and Cambodia, 22 government ministers from ASEAN countries, and the leaders of 36 regional companies.
“The record participation of South-East Asia in Davos this year was a hallmark both of the region’s historic 50th anniversary and the region’s rising importance,” said Justin Wood, Head of Asia Pacific at the World Economic Forum. “ASEAN has tremendous economic strength, with 630 million people, most of them still very young and powerful engines of growth in the form of ongoing industrialization, urbanization, accelerating technology adoption and improving education. At the start of 2016, the 10 economies of ASEAN were collectively the seventh-largest economy in the world. By the start of 2017, that rank had improved to sixth, and by 2020 it will be fifth.”
Nazir Razak, Chairman of CIMB Group, an ASEAN bank, is also Chair of the Forum’s ASEAN Regional Strategy Group (RSG), a 30-strong body of regional government, business and academic leaders. “Over the course of 50 years, the ASEAN organization has achieved more than anyone would have imagined. Most importantly, it has helped to promote regional peace and harmony so that our nations could develop in an environment of stability and good relations. It has also made significant progress in joining together 10 highly diverse countries into a much more integrated community, with deepening economic linkages that are helping to underpin regional prosperity,” said Razak.
In collaboration with the ASEAN RSG, the Forum ensured that South-East Asia had a strong profile in the Annual Meeting programme. Participants considered the challenges that lay ahead for ASEAN, not least the rising forces in parts of the world that are challenging cross-border integration.
“In many ways, the ASEAN model has lessons to share about how to achieve regional integration,” said Razak. “We can’t rest on past achievements. For ASEAN to continue its journey, the region must consider how it can address the many remaining barriers that stand in the way of creating a truly competitive regional market. We have to think about how we can harness digital technologies to create new business models and new development paths. We have to work on building much-needed infrastructure. We have to think deeply about how to educate the youth of the region so that they have the skills for the jobs of tomorrow. And we have to encourage a flourishing of entrepreneurship and the development of SMEs,” he said
The members of the ASEAN RSG convened during the Annual Meeting to consider these and other issues, focusing firmly on developing practical ideas to address these challenges. The RSG produced a list of proposals that will be developed over the coming months and unveiled at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN, to be held in Phnom Penh on 10-12 May 2017.
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