The 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) together form an important strategic and economic region with a combined population of over 600 million, a nominal GDP exceeding US$ 1.8 trillion, and a growth rate for the region expected to exceed 5% in 2012 despite ongoing economic turmoil in the Eurozone and the United States. The ASEAN Economic Blueprint has established concrete targets to form a single market and production base by 2015.
To achieve this major milestone in three years, stronger linkages across Southeast Asia are urgently needed to ensure a competitive and connected region, as well as to reinforce ongoing integration efforts. The region’s connectivity imperative will therefore see a major acceleration in linking the region’s institutional and physical infrastructure, presenting unparalleled opportunities for investment and growth in areas such as the transportation network, energy, mobile health, tourism, financial services and agriculture.
At the same time, corporate and government decision-makers must ensure that the necessary risk response mechanisms are well developed to manage such risks as natural disasters, widening income inequality and resource scarcity.
As demonstrated by unprecedented flooding across the region last year, vulnerability to climate change led to significant disruptions to the region’s production and supply chains and exacerbated socio-economic disparities.
Located at the heart of ASEAN and representing its second largest economy, Thailand is an ideal place to discuss how senior decision-makers can shape the region’s future opportunities while creating the models for improved risk management and sustainable and equitable growth. In this context, the 21st World Economic Forum on East Asia will be an exceptional opportunity not only for leaders from the ASEAN region, but also for those who see in the ASEAN countries a major evolving geopolitical and geo-economic pillar of the global economy.
How can the high economic growth economies of ASEAN help to rebalance both the global and the regional overall economic outlook?
How will governments and institutions develop the financial policies to manage inflation, capital outflows, commodity price volatility and balanced growth towards greater domestic and regional demand?
How will the region leverage its demographic dividend and technology base to develop the models to increase growth through innovation, improve talent mobility, entrepreneurship and skill building?
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