World Economic Forum – delegates descend on Nay Pyi Taw

More than 900 delegates from 55 countries are set to converge on Nay Pyi Taw this week as the capital plays host to the 22nd World Economic Forum on East Asia.

Minister for the President’s Office U Soe Thein speaks at a press conference in Yangon on May 31. (Aung Htay Hlaing/The Myanmar Times)

Senior director of WEF Asia, Sushant Palakurthi Rao, said at a press conference in Yangon on May 31 that the June 5-7 event would be “historic by many measures”.

This year’s forum is the largest in its 22-year history and will see key figures from industry, government, academia and civil society take part in discussions centred on three main themes: inspiring inclusive transformation, realising regional integration and finding regional solutions for global resilience.

Leading global political and business figures are expected to attend the event, including Philippine President Benigno Aquino and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. President U Thein Sein will inaugurate the event, while United Nations Development Program administrator Helen Clark, AirAsia chief executive officer Tony Fernandes and General Electric vice chairman John Rice are among the co-chairs.

Minister for the President’s Office U Soe Thein said the forum would be an opportunity for Myanmar to showcase its economic potential to the outside world.

He said he believed that drawing attention to the government’s reform process would encourage more foreign investment. The event would also promote Myanmar’s growing tourism industry, he said.

This potential was highlighted in a report released last week by the McKinsey Global Institute think-tank, which said the economy has the capacity to grow by 8 percent a year – if the country is able to more than double its labour-productivity growth rate to 7pc.

The report pointed to a number of key factors that, if managed properly, will drive Myanmar’s economic expansion, including harnessing digital technology, supporting a structural shift toward manufacturing, preparing for urbanisation and forging strong regional and international relationships.

Mr Rao told The Myanmar Times that the forum will seek to highlight the need for greater trust-building and cooperation between different stakeholders in Myanmar’s transition to democracy.

“Although the process has been largely top-down, it has allowed many more actors from diverse backgrounds and opinions to participate in national debates and to express their opinions. This is a positive step in the right direction, but reforms cannot end here. There must be reconciliation with the past and building of trust toward a future which is more inclusive, equitable and sustainable,” he said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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