The FINANCIAL — The first Regional CEO Forum for Asia-Pacific held by ICC in Hong Kong on Saturday called for an immediate response to the financial meltdown by unlocking liquidity and getting trade flowing again.
Victor K. Fung, Chairman of ICC, said: “One immediate step that the Forum identified was the need for governments to provide additional guarantees to government-backed export credit insurance agencies, such as the scheme that the Hong Kong SAR Government has implemented with the Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation. This will encourage banks to finance trade transactions with minimum risk.”
According to ICC, the two-day conference involved more than 150 CEOs and senior executives from major corporations across 10 countries in the region as well as ICC directors from ac ross the world. They urged Asian business leaders to play a greater role in addressing the current financial crisis and called on the global business community to make itself heard on issues of international finance, regulation, trade and improved governance.
“The Forum sought to identify some longer-term global issues but it was clear that these regional business leaders were convinced of the need for urgent and decisive action on key points,” Mr Fung said. “We agreed that the crisis represents an opportunity for business and government to work together on new initiatives to restore confidence and stability,” he added.
“There are many lessons that can be learned from Asian economies which have addressed significant economic downturns. Valuable contributions can be made which can assist in crafting short and longer-term solutions,” Mr Fung said.
The Forum, titled “Looking at the Global Economy from Asia-Pacific Perspectives,” provided a platform for CEOs in the region to meet and debate challenges and prospects facing the global economy.
The Forum also endorsed the need to reshape the global regulatory system to better address the changed global financial environment. “There is a compelling case for a rules-based financial regime supported by a dispute resolution system similar to how global trade is conducted,” Mr Fung said.
The Forum warned sharply against the increasing risk of protectionism which threatened long-term global peace and prosperity. Members were united in calling for the successful conclusion of the Doha Round and the promotion of multilateral trade.
ICC will step up its efforts to respond to the financial crisis, to support multilateral trade, and to voice the concerns of business worldwide.
ICC, which has members in over 130 countries, is uniquely placed to advocate on behalf of business at both the local and international level.
The Forum was held at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre and Four Seasons Hotel on Friday and Saturday (21 and 22 November 2008 ) . It was divided into two plenary sessions, each followed by discussion groups. The first, “Asia-Pacific Perspectives on the Global Economy: Challenges and Opportunities” on 21 November, was opened with an address by Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and former Director-General of the World Trade Organization. The second, held on 22 November, was titled “Global Economic Trends and Prospects: Implications for Asia-Pacific Business Leaders”, featured an address by William Overholt, Senior Research Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Moderating the subsequent discussion sessions were Kenneth S. Courtis, Founding Chairman of Next Capital Partners, former Managing Director of Goldman Sachs and Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asia; Jean-Pierre Lehmann, Professor of International Political Economy at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland; Clyde Prestowitz, founder and President of the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington DC, United States ; Martin Wassell , ICC First Director and Richard Wong, Professor of Economics and Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost at the University of Hong Kong.