It was an honour to join business leaders, policymakers and industry experts at the Bloomberg Recovery and Resilience event in Singapore on Monday.
The conference, which was sponsored by Standard Chartered, focused on the ASEAN region (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and looked at its resilience and potential growth since Covid-19 disrupted the world nearly three years ago.
While the region is at the forefront of the climate crisis and has capabilities to showcase itself as a hub of renewable energy excellence, it is not without challenges. Disrupted tourism, supply chains and labour supply as well as increased energy and imported food prices have weighed on the region.
Having said this, the event, which was held at the Shangri-La Hotel, shed light at the end of the tunnel and provided much food for thought. The event showcased relative confidence in the economies of the ASEAN member states – in some cases (described by Malaysia’s Finance Minister - Tengku Zafrul Aziz)) economies that may well exceed their predicted GDP growth.
Some of the highlights for me include Benjamin Hung, CEO, Asia for Standard Chartered, talking about the ASEAN trading bloc being one of just a few around the world that every economic superpower wishes to develop a closer relationship with.
Deborah Elms, Executive Director of the Asian Trade Centre, made a bold call for the implementation and completion of major projects in the ASEAN region. She observed that there is no shortage of great ideas and concepts, but that these need to be met by a sharp focus on execution and “getting things done”.
Bill Winters, Group CEO of Standard Chartered, noted that the US had demonstrated more economic resilience than expected to the point where it could avoid recession, although he added it could be better or worse than predicted. Either way, he pointed out that while post-Covid recovery is on track, there is little doubt that Europe will be in recession.
Sonali Tang of the Asian Development Bank described how ADB provides funding and solutions relating to the energy transition. The bank provides$5-6b of funding a year and in addition to being responsible for the first private sector solar project in Bangladesh, is looking to invest $100m before 2030.
She also discussed the concept of the ASEAN Power Grid, where the full mix of renewable energy (hydro, solar and wind) would be captured, and the benefits shared across the region in one single integrated grid. A compelling concept since this would allow the region to capture the energy generation capabilities of its various geographies to benefit the whole.
Keeping one step ahead and tapping into prime opportunities that arise will help boost sustainable growth in the emerging markets of the ASEAN region for a brighter future in the wake of the pandemic.