On July 13, 2018, Asian business organizations gathered together in New Delhi to hold the 9th Asian Business Summit (ABS). The Summit which has been conceived and organized by Keidanren and Confederation of Indian Industry in cooperation with major economic organizations in Asia, affirmed that the Asian economies share the common goal to grow and prosper together through broad cooperation within the framework of a free and open international economic order and have had extensive discussions on inclusive growth and innovation. The Summit adopted a joint statement which states common commitment of the Asian businesses towards realizing the goal.
1. Inclusive growth
(a) The importance of free and open international economic order
Asia leads sustainable economic development of the world and is the engine for realizing inclusive growth that broadly shares the benefits of development. Businesses must play a major role in promoting this inclusive growth process. In particular, as the globalization of the supply chain progresses, it is extremely important to develop an environment that enables companies to conduct business activities across borders freely and smoothly. At the same time, it is important that there are opportunities for more economic entities to participate in the global value chain, including small- and medium-sized enterprises, as well as local companies.
While concerns over anti-globalization and protectionism have been rising in recent years, it is important for Asian economies to collaborate and cooperate in maintaining and strengthening the free and open international economic order. Along with further liberalization of trade and investment, efforts must be made to facilitate businesses through protection of intellectual property and improvement of rules such as securing fair competition.
The Asian business community requests the early conclusion and implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), including but not limited to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement which form the basis for an institutional foundation to strengthen inter-regional relationships. Also, it was agreed that Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) should not be exclusive and trade should be liberalized so as to achieve WTO compatibility, in moving towards the direction of universal benefit for everyone and that non-tariff barriers in the Asian region need to be suitably addressed to encourage free and fair exchanges.
At the same time, improvement of business environment through elimination and mitigation of various regulations that are hindering free and vigorous business activities, and ensuring fairness, transparency, and predictability of administrative procedures, as well as simplifying and speeding up of the process and providing related information etc., are also important.
(b) Improve infrastructure to support inclusive growth
In Asia, it is urgent to develop core infrastructure, such as electric power, communication, roads, railways, water supply and sewerage, ports and airports. These facilities are the foundation of economic activities and people's livelihood and also support inclusive growth. At the same time, infrastructure development that contributes to the growth of each sector must be prioritized.
The Asian business community continues to promote cooperation in infrastructure development through knowledge sharing and with a focus on economic efficiency, safety, risk-resistance and taking into consideration its impact on society and environment. They called for the improvement of various policies of the government and related organizations for that purpose.
(a) Creation of new value through cooperation in innovation
The driving force of inclusive growth is innovation. Innovation is indispensable for advancing and strengthening competitiveness in every process that produces goods and services - from the research and development stage to market supply - and across all sectors. At the same time, it was recognized that in order to solve various social problems that the Asian region faces, and to improve the quality of life of the people, we must initiate reforms covering institutional aspects that utilize innovative technologies and ideas.
For this reason, the Asian business community will strengthen cooperation for promoting innovation in a manner that benefits all economies regardless of its stage of economic and social development and diversity of industrial structure. Moreover, in order to solve issues such as climate change, natural disaster, health, low birthrate and aging population, it is our intention to promote and expand cooperation in the fields of environment, disaster prevention, healthcare etc, and call for an environment that further spurs innovation and encourages collaboration and cooperation.
(b) Training and utilization of human resources responsible for innovation
Innovation is supported by human resources, and nurturing and utilizing human resources of diverse knowledge, experience, values, ideas, etc., irrespective of nationality, race, age and gender is essential along with creating an environment that enables friendly competition and mutual enlightenment among these talents.
In particular, it is imperative to exchange information and insure education of young people in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, healthcare etc, to spur further innovation. The Asian business community would foster greater inter-regional dialogue to strengthen cooperation in this regard.
For this reason, the Asian business community welcomes human resources exchange programs to realize innovation throughout Asia, such as "Innovative Asia", which aims to facilitate the flow of highly skilled human resources among Asian economies, and to develop innovative technologies.
In order to foster start-up companies which are the early developers of innovative technologies, it is suggested that the governments and relevant organizations improve various systems and share the findings of advanced initiatives in each economy and promote it throughout the entire region. The business community will also promote human resource development through On-Job-Training, accepting interns, granting scholarships, etc. and actively cooperate with various programs conducted by governments and related organizations.
In addition, tourism is a promising growth field, which also provides a platform to encourage exchange of people and contributes in building mutual understanding and trust which will serve as a foundation of cooperation among economies. The Asian business community will contribute to forging partnerships to further develop the tourism industry and expand opportunities to strengthen people to people relationships.