Asia can be formidable powerhouse post-pandemic
29 Nov 2021
Prominent Malaysian entrepreneur Datuk Seri Vijay Eswaran has called for Asian economic integration, saying that Asia needs to develop as a trade bloc to be a formidable powerhouse.
This is in view that the global economy is going to shift from the West to the East post-pandemic and that the “future is going to be the Asian Millennium,” he said in a statement today.
The driving forces in Asia are India, China, ASEAN including Malaysia, as well as Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, he said recently at the annual Horasis Asia Meeting – Asia’s premier gathering of the region’s most senior leaders from business and government.
These are regional hubs, which are fundamentally important, which is why “we should give more importance to our backyard and Asia needs to develop its own philosophy to deal with the challenges moving forward,” he said.
Speaking on the topic, Shaping the New Asia, Vijay, the executive chairman of Asian conglomerate QI Group, said it is going to be a real challenge shaping the global economy, adding that everyone is walking into a new norm post-pandemic.
He said half of the world’s population lives in Asia, where economies are growing quickly and becoming increasingly interconnected in culture, business, and trade.
A new mega trade bloc has the potential to help fuel investment in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis and provide a framework for further regional cooperation at a time of global trade tensions.
“We have to recognise that Asia is going to be leading or at least taking up half of world GDP by 2040 and this is a critically important development,” said Vijay, acknowledging a research report from McKinsey.
“I think what China has done with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a very powerful move in bringing together economies across the third world, and particularly in ASEAN, this has been noticed and welcomed.
“This has pivoted China’s impact on the world and developed new investment opportunities, cultivated export markets, and boosted Chinese income and domestic consumption, ultimately leading them to become today’s economic powerhouse,” he said.
Touching on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), he pointed out that SMEs are going to be the future, post-pandemic.
He stressed that the economic health of a nation was heavily dependent on the revival of the small and medium businesses, hence they require the most amount of protection, and financial credit schemes to keep them afloat coming out of the pandemic.
“The SMEs are the real power of the future. It is the SMEs that took the biggest hit during the pandemic and it’s the SMEs that are going to rebuild.”
“No doubt the big boys are important in bringing investments, FDIs to the various countries across Asia but we need to focus on SMEs because they are the engines of growth and they need to basically revive, renew and re-empower themselves,” he said.
Vijay also touched on the importance of promoting entrepreneurship highlighting that the pandemic has given rise to an explosion of new entrepreneurs who are taking advantage of consumer acceptance of the digital economy.
Held on Horasis’ groundbreaking digital conferencing platform on Friday, the event brought together over 400 of the foremost business and political leaders from across Asia and the world to discuss ways to overcome the profound economic, political, and social disruptions caused by COVID-19.
The QI Group has been an active member of Horasis, an international think tank since 2016. Over the course of the Horasis Asia Meeting 2021, discussions focused on rebooting economic activity, how jobs in the region will look going forward, and how more sustainable development can occur in Asia in a post-coronavirus world.