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Asean emerges winner in WEF

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
Prime Minister Hun Sen addressing the WEF on Asean. AFP

The three days of the World Economic Forum on Asean have wrapped up with a commitment to build a more closely connected community focused on providing better lives for its people, strong leadership in the region, effective public-private cooperation, and as a forum to attract business investment.
Prime Minister Hun Sen concluded during the closing ceremony on Saturday that now all member states in Asean and the private sectors were working within an Asean framework and a cultural forum.
“I hope that WEF will become the main forum to prevent protectionist policies, and expand the willingness on integration and globalisation,” Mr Hun Sen said.
More than 700 business, government and civil society leaders from 40 countries took part in the 26th WEF on Asean in Phnom Penh.
The theme was Youth, Technology and Growth: Securing Asean’s Digital and Demographic Dividends.
Jin Liqun, president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing, said that the vision for Asean countries in the next decade is to have a really integrated economy to achieve the most economic gains for their people.
He added that AIIB strongly supported the economic growth of the whole of Asean.
“AIIB’s job is to work with all ASEAN member states and push investment on infrastructure,” Mr Jin said.
“AIIB is committed to supporting loans and technology for infrastructure development in the region. We are committed to working not only with governments, but also with the private sector.”
Wolfgang Jamann, secretary-general and chief executive officer of Care International in Switzerland, said a key part of the Asean dream must be inclusive connectivity.
“Businesses must look beyond what they have been used to,” he said.
“We must have a wider ambition. Inclusion must not stop at connecting rural areas, the underserved or the underbanked.”
Vongsey Vissoth, secretary of state of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said the three days of the WEF forum had been a huge success and would place Cambodia on the global map.
He said Cambodia was now poised to attract foreign investment but he remained cautious about Cambodia’s need to take care of investors.
“The country has to take into account the concerns of investors and at the same time share the fruits of investment equally with the Cambodian people.”
Mr Vissoth said among 700 participants, 450 were business leaders and some of them had been investing and operating businesses in Cambodia.
“After this forum they can expand their business. The second group will invest or partner with Cambodian businessmen while the third group would just be studying and exploring, with an intention to invest later,” Mr Vissoth said.
He said Cambodia had to think what it needs to do next after the WEF on Asean.
“A platform has been created to attract investors and businesses. So what will be the next step for a follow-up?”
John Rice, a Hong Kong-based vice-chairman of GE, added: “Sustainable inclusive growth is much more than an idea. It is an imperative.”
“We have to create jobs for the 21st century – for a digital world that may not recognise the benefits of globalisation or global trade,” he said.
“But no region has benefited more from them than Asean.”
The 2018 WEF on Asean will be held in Vietnam.

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