World Economic Forum on ASEAN 2018 comes to a close

September 14, 2018 | 08:38 am GMT+7

The World Economic Forum on ASEAN (WEF) 2018, themed “ASEAN 4.0: Entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, wrapped up on September 13 after three working days with nearly 60 discussions.




Addressing the closing ceremony, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh said the WEF ASEAN 2018 gave in-depth and multidimensional assessment of issues important to ASEAN countries’ development in the context of Industry 4.0. Many new and good ideas, experiences and policies to inspire businesses and people’s entrepreneurship and innovation were shared.
He affirmed that only innovations with multidimensional visions can push countries and businesses ahead in the world today. Therefore, the governments and enterprises of ASEAN need to continue promoting their internal strength, creating a favourable environment for innovations and new things, and creating new growth momentum for prosperous development in a fast changing world driven by new technologies. The Vietnamese Government is creating a growth-enabling environment and strongly encouraging businesses and people, particularly the young, to bring into play their innovative capacity and startup spirit, and contribute to the country’s dynamic development.
Building open and smart education for all is a foundation and an important way to boost innovation so as to ensure that all people can gain from opportunities and benefits of technological advances, Deputy PM Binh noted. The Deputy PM welcomed many recommendations made at the WEF ASEAN on how to equip people, especially the young, with skills, including digital skills, to master new technologies and meet new jobs’ requirements. This is also a chance for companies to increase investment in smart education in ASEAN countries.
He said the world’s swift changes have generated big opportunities for ASEAN to realise the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. Aside from enhancing solidarity and consensus and promoting internal strength and resilience, the bloc is opening the door for cooperation with partners in the region and around the world. Expressing his high expectation of future cooperation, he asked the WEF to work closely with ASEAN members in translating practical ideas and initiatives suggested at this forum into concrete cooperation plans and programmes, and to bolster extensive cooperation relations for a Southeast Asia of peace, stability and prosperous development.
At the closing ceremony, Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner of McKinsey & Company, voiced his belief that ASEAN countries will join hands to overcome difficulties and increasingly attain prosperous development despite numerous challenges. To reach this, an important solution is that they need to boost investment in the workforce and increase labour productivity. Optimal conditions for expanding trade markets will appear more and more, so to minimize trade barriers, ASEAN countries need to keep pursuing and maintaining trade agreements with countries and regions around the world, he added.
According to Kevin Sneader, ASEAN is strongly attracting investments from developed countries, but competition from emerging markets with visible impacts requires the grouping’s early adaptation to better deal with challenges. ASEAN countries should increase cooperation and experience sharing on measures to address issues such as budget deficit, domestic market support and speculation in order to have bright prospects in the future, he said. Assessing Vietnam as a country with strong development potential, he said his company had worked with some Vietnamese partners in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to deliver commitments to continued working, consultancy and support to further develop models serving domestic consumers and ensure growth level.
Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Chief Executive Officer of Plan International, said that activities during the WEF ASEAN 2018 offered chances to discuss openly a wide range of issues of concern of the ASEAN governments as well as private and socio-political organisations, especially the inclusion of adaptation amid digital economy and creating conditions for all people to engage in the fourth Industrial Revolution for “no one is left behind”. One cause for great optimism, she elaborated, is ASEAN’s “phenomenal investment in education”, and one that should translate into greater gender equity in the region’s future workforce. “As education has become more and more inclusive, as girls are superseding boys in attaining high levels of education, the economies are still not taking full advantage of that really fantastic resource: well-educated young women in their workforce,” she noted.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese Acting Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung stressed the need for “smart governance” and the willingness of governments, businesses and societies to collectively adapt to rapid technological change. “Technology can change very fast but the people and governments cannot change so fast and this will be our biggest challenge. So what do we need to do?” he asked. “We have to train people so they are adept at change, not only technological training, but soft skills too. I think the Fourth Industrial Revolution is more about a mindset revolution.”

Saying that competition is an essential driving force to enhance development in the era of Industry 4.0, Nazir Razak, Chairman of CIMB Group of Malaysia, stressed that increasing the effective participation of businesses will encourage optimistic changes to create a premise for ASEAN to become a region of booming development during the international integration in the coming time.