DAVOS: Businesses looking towards sustainable political systems in Asean

Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Chief Executive Officer, Plan International, United Kingdom.Sigve Brekke, President and Chief Executive Officer, Telenor Group, Norway, Nazir Razak, Chairman, CIMB Group Holdings, Malaysia.Vuong Dinh Hue, Deputy Prime Minister of Viet Nam, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies of Singapore, Mari Elka Pangestu, Professor of International Economics, University of Indonesia, Indonesia during the Session “Strategic Outlook: ASEAN ” at the Annual Meeting 2018 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 24, 2018.Copyright by World Economic Forum / Manuel Lopez

With a combined population of 640 million and a nominal GDP of more than $3 trillion, the 10 member countries of Asean are a key source of global growth. What is good for Asean is good for the world.

Priorities for the Asean group include inclusive growth, sustainable development, gender equality and economic integration.

This year is a big one politically, with elections in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand (most likely). Business is looking for continued peace and security but also progress towards more sustainable political systems and more reliable legal systems.

In particular, individual Asean governments are called upon to address key issues:
1. Reassess national policies towards entrepreneurs: vested interests and incumbents often prove insurmountable, preventing Asean unicorns from arising
2. Get the balance right between private enterprise and state-owned enterprises
3. Strengthen legal systems to bring certainty to long-term contracts
4. Tackle entrenched gender norms to help release the potential for women and girls
5. Continue the push towards elimination of corruption and misuse of public funds
At the Asean level, business and government leaders call for a more aggressive pace of integration.

The “Asean Way” – emphasizing consultation and consensus building – has maintained intra-
Asean harmony since the grouping’s formation in 1967. This approach, however, has fallen short when it comes to integration. Without regional harmonization and economies of scale, the danger is that global platform companies could crowd out regional innovators. This risks Asean falling behind in the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Finally, the next phase of economic progress in Asean will need to be driven by women and youth.

Regional GDP would be 10-20% larger if women were fully integrated into the workforce. Improving digital literacy alone would bring over 20 million women into the digital economy. In terms of prospects, the main concern is unemployment, with youth unemployment up to five times that of national averages in some cases – an unsustainable situation.

Asean can lead the world in demonstrating the advantages of integration and harmonization. To do this, women and youth need to be in the driver’s seat.

Gareth Shepherd, Official Writer at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2018


Selling America the Trump way: A new approach that may gain support

With Donald Trump surprising Davos (where world leaders are meeting to discuss the economic future of the globe), it will not be surprising that many world leaders will give a try with their investments going to the U.S.

Davos in Switzerland is currently holding the World Economic Forum, and the U.S. president decided to use this forum to polish his dirtied image.

He spoke in a different fashion from his usual ranting and country or people bashing, laying out – almost unexpectedly – the most interesting version of “America First” ideas. It looks like he has finally got it right with his internal team of advisers who has apparently changed the way he talks to the rest of the world.

But according to the New York Times,  President Trump could not resist mixing facts, falsehoods and made claims that could be used in various contexts. That is he was the real Trump whom we have seen in the past one year as US President but for the Davos crowd and the international investors, he sold America well.

Some are calling it a sales pitch good for any Americans who are one of the best at the job. 

Trump boasted about reaching 84 new stock-market highs since taking office a year ago, when he referred in his inaugural address to “American carnage”, said Reuters ‘Breaking News”.

The president has a good scorecard to flash. GDP grew at an annual rate above 3 percent in the second and third quarters of 2017, though it came in at 2.6 percent in the fourth by the first estimate, below expectations. Unemployment has fallen to 4.1 percent and American companies will now pay 14 percentage points less in corporate tax then they did before.

What was new in Trump’s Davos appearance aside from the style was the framing of his administration’s approach to trade and the like. Rather than bashing the Chinese for stealing American jobs, he stuck to larger principles of fairness, said Reuters.

“This more measured version of Trumpism was designed for the global elite. Even so, it may help Davos Man and Woman feel less embarrassed about embracing some of its attributes,” Reuters added.

But NYT lambasted Trump for his boasting. One example is whether Trump is the only businessman who became President of the U.S of A.

Mr. Trump’s claim that “there’s never really been a businessman or businessperson elected president” is wrong, said NYT in bold.

Several presidents have owned, operated or worked in the field of business, said the newspaper.

Most immediately, George Bush and George W. Bush both owned several oil companies based out of Texas. The latter was also part of an ownership group that purchased the Texas Rangers baseball team. Jimmy Carter owned a peanut farm and some other real estate in Georgia, it listed. 

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