Designed to bring together global thought leaders, top business executives, entrepreneurs and policy makers from the region, the GES offers an international platform to discuss the key issues facing organizations today as they grapple with the changes and uncertainty of the “new” economy.
Contributed By Annabelle Low
The annual Global Entrepolis@Singapore Summit 2010 was held on Oct. 7 and 8 at the Raffles City Convention Centre Ballroom. In view of this year’s theme, Global Trends, Asian Insights, the event brought together global thought leaders, top business executives, entrepreneurs and policy makers from the region to discuss key issues facing organizations today.
In his opening address, Guest-of-Honor, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, Professor S. Jayakumar asserted that the post-financial crisis landscape is characterized by a re-balancing of the world economy from the G3 economies to Asia.
Prof. Jayakumar mentioned that long-term challenges arising from strong growth—rapid urbanization, an ageing population and the rise of the middle class—are factors that will put tremendous pressure and demands on governments. He also advised local companies to actively seek out new economic opportunities to tailor their offerings to the Asian consumer and quickly expand into new markets.
He then offered Singapore as a key global hub, to manage, integrate and orchestrate business activities across Asia and reiterated the government’s commitment to innovation and R&D as a means to transform the economy and enhance long-term competitiveness. He cited Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s recent announcement of a national budget of S$16.1 billion dedicated to Research, Innovation and Enterprise from 2011 to 2015.
Prof. Jayakumar also talked about a new effort to develop partnerships with organizations such as the national chambers of industry and commerce. The Singapore Economic Development Board has chosen the Singapore Business Federation as its first partner in this new effort. As the Apex Business Chamber, SBF can play the role of channeling investment leads into Singapore and providing the global networks and market entry services that will ease the set-up of global mid-sized companies and Asian enterprises here.
MINISTERIAL KEYNOTE ADDRESS
The ministerial keynote address was delivered by the Hon. Dato’ Sri Mustapa bin Mohamed, Minister of International Trade and Industry for Malaysia. Sri Mustapa highlighted that businesses must take heed of the changing trends in issues such as the liberalization of trade in services, sustainability, labor rights and the environment.
According to the Global Services Coalition, services now account for 67 percent of the global economic output. Proponents of greater liberalization in services point to the benefits of economic growth and productivity growth. Services are “force multipliers,” through their effects on other more traditional sectors such as manufacturing and agriculture. Sri Mustapa agreed that services liberalization negotiations are important but the outcome must be balanced, taking into the account the interests of the developed and developing countries.
He also affirmed ASEAN’s commitment to realizing the goals of the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, including the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services, which aims for the liberalization of another 15 sub-sectors by 2015. ASEAN has also taken the additional step of negotiating services pacts with its dialogue partners, such as China, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, while negotiations are on-going with India and Japan.
He covered the “global trend” of the growing relevance of non-trade issues in international trade negotiations. It is a consequence of globalization, and values or standards do permeate across borders.
Sri Mustapa observed that many of the issues lead back to the basic idea of innovation and technology. As all countries aspire to move up the value chain, it is a natural progression that social indicators improve as well. With technology upgrades, employment conditions can be improved. With innovation, new ways to grow sustainably can be discovered.
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Sam Pitroda, advisor to the Prime Minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations gave a keynote address on Innovations For The Future, in view of the advent of the Internet. He called for a need for generational change, and stressed that there should be a focus on innovations as a platform, crucial to bringing costs down. He also put forth the challenge that the whole notion of money has to be re-taught.
David Frigstad, Chairman of Frost & Sullivan, spoke from the CEO’s perspective on growth in a complex business universe. More than two thirds of CEOs are frustrated with their growth rate and would like to see it accelerated and see the need to improve their management team’s ability to implement strategy at best practice levels. However, a solid platform is needed to drive growth.
On a global basis, the organization can no longer work in isolation—the CEO must examine both internal and external issues and analyze their impact on each other. He postulates that globalization and the Internet have caused chaos in the traditional business world as we know it. The CEO also needs to have a visionary perspective and visionary benchmarks, and be able to turn a vision into an innovative opportunity. Frigstad defined innovation as a known solution to unmet needs, as opposed to simple improvements on what is existing.
In order to achieve the implementation of excellence, the CEO must ensure that there is teamwork between all the departments in the company, and that they are moving to achieve a common goal.
THE PLENARY SESSIONS
The conference involved a series of plenary sessions that addressed current concerns and issues. The first panel discussion, entitled “Less Government In Business And More Business In Government”, debated the current role of government in business and discussed how governments, in collaboration with business leaders, can be most effective in fostering entrepreneurship, innovation and productivity.
The conclusion was that governments have the responsibility to facilitate and ensure that the nation has the capacity for growth by providing the appropriate infrastructure, technology, regulations, and education to prepare the taskforce of the future. They are responsible for addressing market failures, security issues and the needs of the state.
Throughout the day, various panel discussions were discourses in pertinent global issues, with topics such as “Rebuilding Trust In Financial Institutions: Who Is Financing The Recovery?”; investments and partnerships in emerging economies; China’s current growth prospects in the near and medium term, in which were highlighted the seven industries that China’s government has chosen to focus on: alternative energy, biotechnology, new-generation information technology, high-end equipment manufacturing, advanced materials, alternative-fuel cars as well as energy-saving and environmental protection; as well as the challenges of brand building in China and India.
The summit was a great opportunity for the Singapore business community to hear from some of the leading people in the business spheres all over the world. Valuable advice and insights were gleaned and one can expect to hear the cogs of paradigm shifts grinding into gear in the region.