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ERIA Participates in the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2019

2 November 2019

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Bangkok, 2 November 2019: Industry 4.0 and technological development needs to be human-centric; therefore, workers of all ages—not just the young—need to be equipped with relevant skills for the digital transformation of our economies and societies, said ERIA President Prof Hidetoshi Nishimura in the first panel discussion session ‘Advancing ASEAN 4.0 in the Global Value Chain’ of the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) 2019. Prof Nishimura and a delegation of ERIA experts participated in the two-day event organised by the Government of Thailand and ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC) on the sidelines of the 35th ASEAN Summit.

 Prof Nishimura suggested that, with advanced communications technology, traditional sectors can be upgraded through a ‘micro-macro information loop’, where small businesses can access relevant market information in their hand-held mobile device. He shared his optimism that servicification of manufacturing, where manufacturing activities increasingly rely on services, will create new economic opportunities in the region by allowing ASEAN businesses to remotely perform specialised tasks for firms located in developed country. Prof Nishimura also presented a new video based on ASEAN Vision 2040 Volume III : Transforming and Deepening the ASEAN Community. The ASEAN Vision 2040 is ERIA’s flagship publication of 2019, which was developed upon the request of the Government of Thailand as part of their deliverables for the Chairmanship of ASEAN.

Prof Nishimura shared the stage with Ms Gabriela Ramos, OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20; Mr Justin Wood, Head of Asia Pacific Agendas of the WEF; and Mr Nobuhiko Sasaki, Chairman of JETRO, Japan.

During her presentation, Ms Ramos underlined the need of a complex set of skills in future generation of students and workers (such as critical thinking, collaboration and team-working, self-confidence). She also spoke about the need for SMEs and newly created firms to access data, a resource increasingly fundamental to be able to compete in the digital economy. Policymakers around the world must think about how to make sure the SME and newly created firms can access and use data and to avoid barriers to enter specific markets.

Mr Wood highlighted the increasing size of services in advanced economies and GVC worldwide. He also suggested that it is time to move from the definition of economies of scale to the one of economies of skills as investors and FDIs are increasingly moving towards those location where skills can be found.

As the last speaker of the panel, Mr Sasaki praised the establishment of an ASEAN Economic Community and stated that the time has come to think about the next steps. He mentioned the need to reduce NTMs to facilitate trade across countries. Digital rules and strategies for Industry 4.0 are also important policy development that need to be addressed in the future in ASEAN.

During the second day of ABIS 2019, Dr Rashesh Shrestha, Economist of ERIA, spoke during the panel ‘ASEAN Human Empowerment and Development (AHEAD)’. He emphasised the need for better skills in macro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in ASEAN. A broad skill set is needed: technical STEM skills need to be combined with soft skills and also a combination of cognitive and non-cognitive skills is required. In addition to urgently investing in good quality education, governments in ASEAN need to embark on broad labor market reforms to increase formalization, flexibility, and skill mobility in order to create the incentives for investment in skill development by students and workers.  

Around 1,000 high-level government officials from ASEAN countries, private sectors, ASEAN’s dialogue partners, civil society organizations, and academic and research institutions attended ABIS 2019. Keynote addresses were given by world leaders including Prime Ministers of Thailand, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Russia, as well as HRM Duke of York.

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