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If we in the private sector are to pursue goals for the inclusive growth of ASEAN, we will need the support of the government and our leaders. Their initiative to start development plans, coupled with the role of the private sector to contribute to the programs will greatly help in the pursuit for prosperity for all.
This is why we invited a total of 18 leaders to the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in order to hear their insights on growth and development in the region. Apart from the 10 ASEAN leaders, we have requested the leaders of ASEAN’s dialogue partners such as Russia, Korea, Japan, Australia and United States of America.
Many have said it was a feat to have the five leaders in ABIS 2017. We were honored to have President Duterte, Myanmar state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi grace the biggest business and state leaders event staged in the country.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who joined us during the opening day, centered her speech on women economic empowerment and human capital development. She said that more women entrepreneurs participated in Myanmar’s transformation which contributed to the economic and social development of their country. During her speech, she said, “Empowering women is a form of human capital development… Because women are an important part of our human capital.”
Korea’s President Moon Jae-in dealt on the 3Ps of their country, which are people-centered, peace-loving, and mutual prosperity. He stressed that his political philosophy is to prioritize his people, which corresponds to the vision of a people-centric community pursued by ASEAN. Additionally, President Moon said Korea is the best partner for growth as they too strengthen partnerships with the regional bloc in areas like transportation, energy, water, and ICT.
I am impressed by Russia’s Prime Minister who not only shared his insights on development, but also joined the panel on infrastructure. Prime Minister Medvedev said Russia is willing to provide infrastructure capacities to all ASEAN economies including airports, railways, roads, powerlines, and communication channels. I, too, was able to ask him directly on Russia’s plans on how they can help small businesses scale up in their country. He said Russia’s small businesses make up 50-60 percent of their business community which is low compared to the ASEAN region’s 90 percent.
We also learned a lot from India Prime Minister Narendra Modi who shared that they have helped their small and medium enterprises through different programs. Industrial licensing in their country is simple and can be done online. They have also introduced a unique ID system for financial transactions and taxation. PM Modi added, “Using technology, we are enhancing responsibility and reducing discretion and corruption.” They have also created the Jan Dhan Yojana which is a program for financial inclusion.
Of course, our dear President Duterte led the formal launch of the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN). He commended the initiative of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council for its efforts to mentor the micro and small entrepreneurs not just in the country, but also across the region. He also announced his commitment to help MSMEs by increasing the national budget allocated for this sector.
On the last day of ABIS 2017, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who knows by heart what ASEAN is about, discussed the projection of ASEAN in the next 50 years. She said, “Communities will be highly integrated and cohesive with enhanced connectivity and central cooperation with a more people-oriented community integrated with the global community.”
Closing the three-day conference and focusing on prosperity, Vice President Leni Robredo discussed on why inclusivity is vital to MSME development and poverty alleviation. VP Leni explained, “Whatever we achieve on the negotiating table must be felt by those who have been left behind by globalization and progress.”
We are all glad to know that micro and small entrepreneurs are part of the vision of the leaders for prosperity. We indeed have to create programs for their development as they are the backbone of the economy.
Like what I said during my closing speech, the theme of “Prosperity for All” should not stop even though ABIS 2017 has ended. Instead, it is the start of the real pursuit for inclusivity and prosperity. Tremendous work must be done in order to achieve this, but I am confident that with ASEAN public-private partnership, we can all contribute to reaching this goal for the region. Cheers to the next 50 years of ASEAN!