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Policy Proposals  Asia and Oceania Third Asian Business Summit Joint Statement Strengthening the basis for growth and building an `Asia Open to the World`

July 13, 2012

The European debt crisis and financial uncertainty is casting a shadow on the world economy. While most of the people in the world keep their eyes on the future course of the European economy, there is a growing sense of hope in the Asian economy since Asia is sustaining relatively strong growth during the crisis.

Under these circumstances, representatives of 14 business organizations from 12 Asian economies came together in Bangkok, Thailand, to take part in the Third Asian Business Summit.

The Asian business community welcomed the first attendance of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI). The meeting reaffirmed that all members of the Asian business community will commit their increased cooperation in future works.

All members of the Asian business community will provide inputs to the leaders of each economy to achieve the proposals below and reaffirmed that they are dedicated to the achievement of such proposals.

1. Sustaining Robust Growth in Asia

In order to ensure Asia's continuing and stable growth as the engine of the global economy, it is essential not only to strengthen the basis for growth and expand domestic demand, but also to structure an Asian economy open to the world. For Asia to achieve private sector-led sustained economic growth, the Asian business community will support free and fair trade and be resolute in opposing protectionist approaches. The Asian business community will play the lead role in the prosperity of the Asian region by exerting ceaseless efforts in every economic region and by strengthening mutual cooperation.

Of particular note is that, given the pall of uncertainty being cast on the future course of the world economy by the financial and debt problems in Europe, economic and financial cooperation in Asia is becoming increasingly important. The Asian business community welcomes the step already taken in May this year to double the pool of funds under the Chiang Mai Initiative for the purpose of ensuring the stability of currencies within the Asian region. This step is an important prerequisite for invigorating trade and investment within the region, and we will continue to support the strengthening of the Chiang Mai Initiative to serve as a regional financial safety net. We further recommend the expansion of this Initiative to include all economies of the region with adequate economic strength and ample financial resources.

The Asian Business Community also supports the formation of an Asian Bond Market and its promotion to support the participation of Asian Financial Institutions and infrastructure development to support growth in Asia.

2. Deepening Asian Regional Cooperation

The strengthening of regional connectivity and the creation of an environment conducive to the free movement of people, goods, and services are prerequisites for ensuring sustained growth in the Asian region. The Asian business community will continue to work vigorously—from the perspective of the private sector—for the completion of regional economic cooperation of the scale of APEC, namely the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) in future. Accordingly, we welcome the efforts being made towards regional economic cooperation, such as the ASEAN, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), China-Japan-Korea FTA, ASEAN++ Scheme etc. that serve as stepping-stones towards the FTAAP. We encourage the authorities of each economy concerned to take concrete actions with a view to achieving this goal.

3. Addressing Energy and Environmental Issues

Asia is experiencing the unrelenting demand for energy demand expansion that accompanies economic development. Hence, it is essential to devote efforts to securing a steady supply of energy and its efficient use.

In order to ensure energy security for Asia and the world as a whole, joint development of energy resources should be undertaken through public-private cooperation. This will be carried out by sharing good practices in current bilateral developments.

The Asian business community will continue to collaborate to spread energy-conservation technologies. It is essential that the promotion of energy conservation be given maximum priority not only to ensure effective use of finite resources, but also to contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions. In this context, the Asian business community will give its cooperation to the building of a fair and effective international framework to be adopted in which all major nations participate in a responsible manner.

4. Promoting Innovation and Human Resource Development

Achieving innovation is indispensable to surmounting issues that the Asian region will face sooner or later, such as low birth rates and the aging of societies; resource, environmental, and energy constraints. It is none other than the private business community that is the driving force behind innovation, and the Asian business community is committed not only to developing and promoting the spread of innovative products and services that lead to the creation of new industries and markets, but also to nurturing the human resources to assume the task of implementing innovation, including by fostering the interchange of human resources with high-level skills.

To ensure the joint development of new technologies and their efficient dispersion within Asia, it is vital to have uniform standards. For fields that require industrial, environmental, or other common standards, we propose that institutions such as the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) be used to promote the creation of standards that originate in Asia and to be recognized as global standards.

The protection of intellectual property rights is important in protecting business in the Asian region and is also a prerequisite for fostering private-sector research and development and technology transfers. It is necessary to promote implementation of measures such as the liberalization of royalty remittances, enhancement of anti-piracy and imitation, and harmonization of rules concerning intellectual property rights.

5. Developing Infrastructure

The development of infrastructure is an important policy field not simply for creating demand but also for forming the foundations for future growth. It is necessary to expedite the concretization of broad regional infrastructure development plans, such as economic corridors promoted by individual countries and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity and also to enhance South Asia's connectivity with the ASEAN region. Streamlining priority projects and steadily implementing them would be the key. However, since large-scale infrastructure development requires enormous cost, the private sector will need to collaborate with governments and other public-sector bodies. In addition, since infrastructure development is conducted in accordance with the domestic laws of the host countries, the Asian business community calls each economy to introduce legislation toward a practical and transparent public private partnerships (PPP). The Asian economies should coordinate and align their PPP plans and programmes to avoid conflicts and promote cooperation. This would draw on the strengths and advantages of each economy. To ensure the selection of high-quality, low-environmental impact infrastructure projects that will contribute to sustained growth, we also call for the establishment and improvement of bidding systems.

In addition, we wish to bring about more widespread use of advanced energy-conservation and low-carbon technologies and to support and promote the reduction of CO2 emissions throughout the region. To achieve this, we set proper value on the amount of reduced CO2 emissions achieved by technology transfers. To this end, we will promote introduction to the economies in the region of the bilateral offsetting mechanisms.

6. Building Robust Supply Chains in the Asian Region

In 2011, disasters such as the earthquake in Japan and the flooding in Thailand reaffirmed the importance of supply chains within the Asian region. ERIA is conducting research concerning supply chains in the region that are resilient to disasters, and stresses the need of building disaster-management systems that place emphasis on risk assessment and business continuity planning (BCP). The Asian business community welcomes these efforts.

The Asian business community also supports the building of disaster-prevention and disaster-mitigation infrastructure systems that utilize functions such as observation, positioning, and communication from satellites with regard to earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, typhoons, and other natural disasters. Taking advantage of the lessons concerning risk management and sustainable supply chains learned from the recent disasters, we intend to build disaster-resistant supply chains and will call upon the authorities of the economies in the region to implement the liberalization and streamlining of their logistics and distribution networks necessary to enable us to achieve that aim.

Regional Affairs