Asian heads, businessmen to meet at S’pore forum

ASIAN leaders will get feedback on the problems international businesses face in their dealings with the region at a high-profile conference to be held in Singapore this month.

And business leaders would be better informed about Asian countries, Professor Tommy Koh told The Sunday Times in an interview last week.

“I hope at the end of the day, businessmen will be more aware of the opportunities open to them in the region,” said Prof Koh, who heads the Institute of Policy Studies which is organising the conference with the Asia Society and publisher Dow Jones & Co.

“The keynote speakers are political leaders shaping the broad political and economic environment. Businessmen also function in this environment. Both views will be heard,” he said.

The conference, with the theme, Waves Of The Future – Asean, Vietnam and China, is the fifth in a series which first began in 1989. It will be held from May 17 to 19.

Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Law and Foreign Minister S. Jayakumar will deliver keynote addresses.

Other keynote speakers will be New Zealand’s Prime Minister J. B. Bolger, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim, Indonesia’s Co-ordinating Minister for Trade and Industry Hartarto and Thai Deputy Prime Minister Amnuay Veeravan.

China’s Vice-Premier Li Lanqing and Vietnamese Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet are among the other luminaries invited.

Prof Koh said that Mr Goh was likely to meet the visiting government leaders and host them to lunch and dinner. “Their side meetings would be an additional bonus.”

He said the theme of the conference was timely with the East Asian economies booming.

“It coincides at a time when all the economies are achieving very high growth rates and looking outwards for opportunities, investment, trade and partnership.”

Government leaders and businessmen will brainstorm global economic trends and developments, new opportunities and challenges in Asean, China’s next 10 years, Vietnam’s strategies for growth as well as the rise of East Asia in the world economy.

According to Miss Susan Heinz of the New-York based Asia Society, about 800 government officials and business leaders are expected to attend the three-day conference at Shangri-La Hotel.

Previous conferences were held in Hongkong, Bali, Taiwan and Tokyo.

They attracted more than 3,000 business leaders and government officials from the Asia-Pacific region, the United States and Europe.

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