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The 10th Asian Business Summit
Asia Super Connect for Sustainable Development
Joint Statement
October 17, 2019

On October 17, 2019, 12 Asian business organizations gathered together in Hanoi for the 10th Asian Business Summit (ABS). The Summit agreed that the close collaboration between economies in the region is the key to the sustainable and inclusive development. In particular, in the digital era with abrupt technological changes, a comprehensive cooperation in all areas, ranging across technology, infrastructure, human resources, agriculture, health care, environment and financing is indispensable. The Summit adopted a joint statement which expresses the shared commitment and efforts of the Asian businesses towards realizing the goal of inclusive and sustainable development and shared prosperity.

1. Digital Asia: Collaboration for innovative and sustainable development

(a) Growth Strategy: Promoting innovative development

As the world entering the fourth industrial revolution, challenges of digitalization and innovation is affecting all sectors across societies in many ways. Asian economies should commit to a policy framework of openness and exploration of opportunities arising from the digital innovation revolution, fostering implementation of technological advances in all areas of human activity.

Particularly, businesses which are a pioneering force of the economies, should be enabled to continuously innovate in terms of technology and, management so as to have robust and sustainable business models. Asian business communities must promote sound businesses with focus on corporate social responsibility, environment and climate change issues, and green technologies, thus enabling resource efficiency and promoting circular economy.

For that, the Asian business community will strengthen cooperation and focus on innovation that can connect the economies in global value chain, bringing mutual benefits for everyone regardless of their level of economic development, and promoting sustainable growth in the region.

The Asian business community realize the importance of cyber security and the need of closer cooperation at the regional and global levels.

(b) Smart Society: Ensuring sustainable development

Vibrant economic development leads to rapid urbanization and climate change. Additionally, many Asian cities are close to the sea, facing phenomena like typhoons, cyclones, earthquakes and other natural disasters. There is critical need for bolstering economic growth and preserving the environment, tackling climate change to ensure sustainable development, thereby promoting need of co-operation works amongst economies which will result in smart societies in the future.

Businesses will need to work hand in hand with the government to collaborate in setting green production standards, which is an important element in the effort to tackle climate change, to make the best use of river water resources, fostering green growth.

Business communities encourage Asian cities to network and to share experiences and best practices for the development of smart societies.

2. Global Asia: Partnership for Inclusive Development

(a) Free Trade and Global Value Chain: Promoting economic inclusiveness

Despite some uncertainties raised by protectionism and nationalism, Asian business communities are committed to free and open trade which is the best option to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth resulting in prosperity of all our economies.

We reaffirm that the expansion of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and acceleration towards the early realization of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement are key goals in attaining regional economic integration and we will support such trade agreements. Also, we agree that Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) should not be exclusive and that trade should be liberalized so as to achieve WTO compatibility, in moving towards the direction of universal benefit for everyone.

Asian business associations also agree that MSMES continue to be the backbone of many Asian economies. Thus, we would encourage the MSMEs to successfully conduct businesses across borders and participate in global value chain, while expanding their innovative capabilities and global presence though internet and digital economy and e-commerce platform.

The business community in Asia also strongly supports and recognizes the importance of the role of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and a rules-based multilateral trading system, encouraging trade growth especially for MSMEs. We also call for the immediate resolution of the crisis in the WTO's dispute settlement system, which plays a key role in WTO. It is also important for the reform of the existing WTO rules to keep up to date to the modern business models especially in the current digital economy.

(b) Infrastructure and Human Resources: Strengthening regional collaboration

Infrastructure and human resources are critical to advancing economic growth. Imbalanced development of infrastructure amongst economies slows down smooth flows of goods and services, hindering both intra and inter-regional trade. Asian business community calls for an effective mechanism to support public private partnership in the infrastructure development. A greater regulatory certainty along with simplification and clarity of administrative processes and reduction of red tape will help facilitate the financing for infrastructure projects.

On the other hand, capacity building and human resource are also key issues on the regional cooperation program. In the digital era marked by rapid advancement in automation and artificial intelligence, many traditional jobs will be replaced, and new skills will be required to meet the demand of new technologies. Initiatives to foster start-up, innovative companies, and high tech businesses should be encouraged. An effective collaboration on human resource among economies will enhance the overall regional competitiveness.