- The unprecedented trade war between China and the United States will disrupt global supply and technology chains if it continues
- Global challenges of sustainability, equitable growth, healthcare, innovation and reskilling demand collaboration among sectors and countries to shape a better world
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New Delhi, India, 3 October 2019 – The continuing US-China trade war will disrupt the global supply chain and risks breaking the global technology chain if it continues, said Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat, at the opening of the 33rd India Economic Summit today. “All of us are suffering economic damage – it’s quite unprecedented,” added Keat. He pointed to a broader competition of governance models, between one based on democracy, human rights and free speech, and another where you have “one dominant party with a very different way of working”.
The co-chairs at the opening plenary of this year’s summit identified a set of key global challenges that demand collaboration among business, government and civil society, including equitable growth, gender parity, climate change, healthcare, technological change and reskilling.
Technology has transformed South Asia in the past few years said Shailendra Singh, Managing Director of Sequoia Capital India. The compound effect of smart phones – now in the hands of half a billion Indians – rapid digital payment systems, such as the Unified Payment Interface, and India’s tax reforms, including a standardized Goods and Services Tax, has driven rapid and deep changes in the economy and in people’s lives. “The next decade will be the golden decade for technology and entrepreneurship in this region,” said Singh. In such a rapidly transforming world, talented leaders and skilled workforces will be key to economic dynamism.
In India, 50% of the workforce needs training in new skills to cope with the way in which the Fourth Industrial Revolution is transforming business models and reshaping national competitiveness. “We are in an age where talent is replacing capitalism,” announced Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. In Singapore, Keat steers one-third of his budget into supporting universities and companies in research, innovation and enterprise development, with a focus on reskilling employees so that “workers can upgrade together with the company”.
To make equitable growth a reality requires workforces that are not only highly skilled, but also diverse and healthy. The Government of India recently announced plans to build 150,000 new primary healthcare centres this year. The private sector also has an important role to play in keeping people healthy, said Shobana Kamineni, Executive Vice-Chairperson of Apollo Hospitals. Kamineni said early detection of illness can bring huge benefits in keeping down the cost of treatment and more swiftly returning people to productive work. Gender parity is a challenge for many countries, including India. “Women in this part of the world still believe they are second-rate citizens,” said tennis star and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Sania Mirza, adding: “If women are given the right kind of backing and opportunity they can conquer the world.”
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