Asian change-makers share their visionary ideas for a unified Asia
Over the past decade, Asia has been home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and boasts of major contributions to global growth. In an effort to underline this deepening regional integration, the fourth edition of The Economic Times Asian Business Leaders Conclave saw Asian thought leaders, government and business leaders convene and discuss pertinent issues facing the region.
Importance of India-Singapore ties
The close ties between India and Singapore have strong commercial and cultural roots. H.E. Jawed Ashraf, High Commissioner of India, Singapore, delved into this in his keynote address, stating that, “As the world enters into multiple transitions and daily disruptions, the future will demand more from India and Singapore, and our two countries will be able to do more for the region when they are ready to do more with each other. We must serve a larger purpose and we must build a peaceful, prosperous and stable Indo-Pacific region.”
The event also saw Meenakashi Lekhi, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, and Vikram Nair, Member of Parliament, Singapore ponder these ties, with the Indian Member of Parliament saying, “Asia’s leaders have been doing business much before the Industrial Revolution, and India and Singapore have long shared civilizational bonds, commerce and trade. The trust between the leadership of both countries is very important.”
Prasoon Mukherjee, Chairman and Founder, Universal Success Enterprises & Vice Chairman, South Asian Business Group Singapore Business Federation was instrumental in shaping the event agenda, and offered an insight into Asia 2030, saying, “There are four mega-trends that will affect not only how businesses perform, but how they stay relevant going forward. Digitisation, sustainability, evolving skill-sets and rapid urbanization will play a disruptive role in our lives, and government and industry need to collaborate and innovate to keep us abreast of the winds of change.
As economic integration across Asia deepens, a panel of experts analysed the economic & geopolitical risks shaping Asia’s business landscape, including gaining an understanding of the business opportunities and implications, and how greater economic integration is the way forward. With growth projected at 6.6% in 2019 and 6.7% in 2020, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the overall South Asian story remains strong. External risks continue to cause economic concern, and deeper regional integration will be key to managing risk, building resilience, and ensuring future growth. Greater integration can also strengthen food and energy security while boosting national economies – culminating in a stronger, more innovative Southeast Asia.
Opportunities & Challenges for Singapore Businesses
Singapore and India’s trade histories have for long been intertwined, and Leslie Thng, CEO, Vistara, expounded on this, saying, “India has 120 million domestic air travellers and there is a lot of potential for any investors in Indian aviation. In my two years in India, the Indian government has been very progressive, with a lot of dialogue and consultation, and this helps our long-term view for the Indian aviation industry.”
Arthur Lang, CEO, International, Singtel, is also no stranger to India Inc., and struck a bullish note, saying, “Ties between Singapore and India have never been better. Across many different fronts, there are tremendous ties between our two countries. Our international, non-Singapore business represents about 75% of our total profits, so our relationship with overseas and emerging markets is very strong. We believe in the growth of emerging Asia and we definitely believe in India.”
An icon of Indian cinema was also recognised for her unstinting cinematic excellence, with Rani Mukherjee being recognised as the Most Influential Cinema Personality. Speaking on the occasion, she said, “As an actor, I have been fortunate enough to have got films that inspired me and everyone who saw them on screen. Some of them sparked a conversation and also affected social change. I have a special liking towards films that leave an impact on the hearts and minds of people and makes us ponder about the world that we live in.”
The event also saw the unveiling of an exclusive coffee table book, The Economic Times Promising Business Leaders of Asia by Deepak Lamba, President, TSSL and CEO, Worldwide Media alongside H.E. Samheng Bora, Under-Secretary of State Ministry of Commerce, Royal Government of Cambodia.
Speaking at the event, Deepak Lamba stated that, “A slowdown in global growth has impacted South Asia too, and the time for action is upon us. As one of the world’s most widely read business dailies, The Economic Times has a unique opportunity to bring together the many drivers of regional growth and promote greater industrial and technological cooperation through The Economic Times Asian Business Leaders Conclave, a landmark and much sought-after regional event.”
Karan Karayi, email@example.com