Policy Proposals Asia and Oceania Joint Statement of the 4th Asian Business Summit
Asian economies have demonstrated remarkable economic resilience and function as the veritable growth engine for the global economy. Hence, sustaining the region's growth momentum is of critical importance not just for Asia, but for the global economy as a whole.
The Asian business community has come to assume an important role in empowering the region's new economic dynamism. Asian economies have recognized this development and are according a greater role for the private sector in their respective growth and development initiatives. Today, as these economies step up the liberalization drive, new avenues are also being created for private-sector led cross-border partnerships.
The Asian Business Summit is an important forum for leading business organizations across Asia to meet and deliberate upon the key issues that confront Asian economies, identify new cross-border partnership opportunities, and build a roadmap for accelerating the region's economic progress.
On July 31, 2013, 11 business organizations from 9 Asian economies converged in New Delhi, India, to attend the 4th Asian Business Summit. The leaders present discussed the major challenges for Asian economies in view of the emerging global economic realities, and came up with a Joint Statement on the way forward.
At the very outset, the leaders reaffirmed the critical role of the private sector in powering the Asian economies, and urged the policy makers to create the right ecosystems for private players to enter new and emerging business areas, enhance their global competitiveness, raise the region's productivity levels, as well as deliver public goods.
The delegates agreed to play an active role in realizing the goals laid down at the Summit and to provide actionable inputs to the policy makers of their respective countries. The Joint Statement made at the Summit mirrors the expectations and aspirations of the business community, and delineates the future role of the private sector in sustaining Asia's economic dynamism.
1. Accelerate Asia's Economic Integration & Strengthen the Region's Leadership in Furthering Global Growth Goals
The business leaders resolved to promote new Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) / Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) as well as strengthen the existing agreements within the Asian region in order to use them as building blocks for creating a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP).
The EPAs / FTAs would bind the Asian economies together and promote greater regional cooperation for expanded trade in goods and services, greater cross-border investment flows, dismantling of non-tariff barriers and lifting of export restrictions on food and natural resources provided domestic demand has been satisfied, strengthening of the IPR regime, facilitation of remittances -- especially with regard to royalties, seamless transfer of technology between governments and business, and cross-border collaborations to leverage ICT for socio-economic transformation of Asian economies.
Regional economic integration is the key to enhancing Asia's capacity to play a major role in realizing key global growth and sustainable goals, as well as support the resource needs of less developed economies, and provide the necessary impetus for sustained global economic recovery.
2. Promote Regional Monetary Cooperation, Strengthen Public Finance, & Enhance the Region's Real Economy
The Asian business community called for deeper regional fiscal and monetary cooperation. This would involve expanding the membership of the Asian foreign exchange reserve pool under the Chiang Mai Initiative, and coordinated action for addressing the region's fiscal imbalances.
The leaders also called for establishing a regional financial architecture that gives both large and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) easy access to timely credit. Financial inclusion is fundamental to the sustainability of Asia's economic dynamism. At the same time, the emerging financial system should enhance the real economy.
The business community called for enhanced utilization of the Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility (CGIF), and impressed upon Asian economies to press ahead with the Asian Bond Markets Initiatives (ABMI) for the development of local currency bond markets within the region. They welcomed the moves to channel funds for enhancing the liquidity of Asian bond markets.
The leaders came up with a consensus that it is necessary to dispel market anxiety in order to steadily build a stable Asian financial market. The leaders, therefore, asked each economy to implement fiscal policies which aim at building sound and reliable public financing system.
3. Improve Energy Efficiency & Reduce Environmental Burden Within the Region
With its rapid economic growth, Asia is experiencing unrelenting energy demand expansion and increasing environmental burden. It is essential to devote efforts for securing a steady supply of energy, using natural resources efficiently, and conserving the nature.
With a view to create a low-environmental-impact society on a global scale, through various means including lower CO2 emissions, recycling, and coexistence with nature, the Asian business community will continue to collaborate to develop and spread green technologies, products and services, and enhance capabilities to utilize them. These include energy-conservation, low-environmental-impact urban development, renewable energy, nuclear energy, and efficient use of fossil fuels. In this context, the Summit called for a region-wide effort in building initiatives such as the bilateral offset mechanism.
The Summit also calls on each economy to strongly support such efforts by the private sector and to take initiatives to promote basic research and development as well as to develop energy resources through public-private cooperation.
As for an international framework that is to be implemented from 2020, the Summit agrees to provide cooperation to build a fair and effective international framework in which all major emitters participate with responsibility.
4. Promote Regional Infrastructure Development with Greater Private Sector Participation
To accelerate the development of regional infrastructure, the participating leaders urged the Asian economies to improve their respective procurement systems and bring in enabling legislations to promote Public Private Partnerships (PPP) for infrastructure-related projects.
The business community also asked the Asian economies to introduce bidding systems that help evaluate non-price factors such as environmental load and durability, more effectively.
The leaders reaffirmed their support for building and strengthening disaster management mechanisms within the region, utilizing satellite-based observation, positioning, and communication systems and functions.
5. Accelerate Innovation, Technology Development and Human Capital Development
The leaders called for stepping up the exchange of highly-skilled human resources between Asian economies, and encouraged Asian institutions to undertake joint research and development initiatives to drive innovation across industries. Innovation-led industrial development and advanced human capital formation will help Asian companies develop high value-added products and thereby move up the global value chain.
Further, to promote seamless transfer of technologies and product distribution between Asian economies, the leaders called for unification and harmonization of standards across the region.
They also underlined the need for business-enabling steps like liberalization of royalty remittances, enhancement of anti-piracy measures, and harmonization of rules concerning intellectual property rights.
6. Turn Demographic Challenges into Growth Opportunities
For some of the Asian economies, demographic challenges pose mounting tasks such as increasing burden of social welfare expenditure accentuated by a declining birth rate and a growing proportion of elderly people, while for others, it is to address serious tasks such as youth employment stemming from population growth. To minimize the adverse effects of this demographic change, the leaders asserted that each economy and industry should take effective measures to enhance human capital through education, training, implement new technologies and facilitate innovation to accelerate economic growth.
The leaders also urged the Asian economies to lift the existing restrictions on trans-border movement of medical workers and caregivers in the region. They asserted that regulatory reforms pertaining to medical services will greatly bridge the manpower needs of the region's healthcare sectors.
The Summit raised the bar of excellence for Asia's enterprises, encouraging businesses across the region to enhance their global competitiveness through intra-regional partnerships for knowledge sharing, technology transfer, R&D and innovation, skill development and capacity building, and financial inclusion. These partnerships in turn would accelerate Asia's economic integration, resulting in expanded regional trade and investment flows, strengthening of regional infrastructure, and deep cooperation in vital areas like energy security, environmental protection, economic inclusion of the underserved people, and regional security.