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Boao Forum: The Asian Voice

The theme of Annual Conference 2012 of BFA “Asia in the Changing World: Moving toward Sound and Sustainable Development,” points toward number of challenges that Asia may face in coming years.

 The East Asian miracle which has changed the perception of the World about Asia has developed interest of the policy makers, development practitioners, business leaders and academia in the region. They want to learn from the experience of this region for its remarkable progress in economic and social development. This has increased the influence of Asia in regional as well as international affairs. The economic cooperation of Asia at bilateral, regional, sub-regional, and trans-regional level in the fields of business, finance, science and technology, transportation, culture and the media are constantly increasing. With all these developments taking place in the region there was no regular forum to showcase such achievements and share with rest of the world at Asia level till the establishment of Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) in 2002. The Annual Conference of BFA has assumed the most prestigious position in the global arena over the years due to the interest it generated among leaders in government, business and academia in Asia and other continents. The Forum is providing a platform for knowledge-sharing on economic development as well as promoting economic integration at regional and global level.

The idea for such a Forum was floated in 1998 by leading personalities such as Fidel V. Ramos, former President of the Philippines, Bob Hawke, former Prime Minister of Australia, and Morihiro Hosokawa, former Prime Minister of Japan, but it took three years to formally inaugurate the Forum in February 2001. The Forum was established to represent Asia in the world, and formed on the similar lines as of the World Economic Forum. China took the lead to host this event every year at Boao in the Hainan Province of China which is the permanent venue for ‘Boao Forum Annual Conference’ since 2002. Participants of the Annual Conference attend this event to receive firsthand knowledge of the economic development in leading Asian economies. The Forum also provides an opportunity to participants to share their experiences and thoughts on current as well as emerging challenges related to development at regional as well as global level.

China is now assuming the leading role in the world with its strong economic progress. World is looking towards them for a lead role to bring their economies out of crisis.
The BFA has successfully brought the Asian countries closer to their development goals. When these countries meet at the BFA, the world listened attentively to the voices coming from this small, quiet and scenic island of China ‘Boao. The then Vice Chairman of China, Hu Jintao, after the briefing on conceived Forum on October 8, 1999, happily agreed to extend all necessary support and cooperation of the Chinese Government for this important Forum. The philosophy of China to support such a Forum was to support a multi-level, multi-channel and multi-type of regional cooperation and dialogue. The establishment of the Forum was considered as a platform for promoting understanding, trust and cooperation among regional countries. About 25 regional countries supported the stance of Chinese government and recognized the importance of the Boao Forum for Asia and role of Chinese government in taking this initiative at its appropriate level.
Under the new growth strategy, trade and tariff liberalization with China, transit trade agreement with Afghanistan, and the grant of the most favoured nation status (MFN) to India are some of the important initiatives. These steps are expected to help Pakistan but there is a need for deeper reforms which may not be viable politically but important for the revival of the economy.
 
The theme of Annual Conference 2012 of BFA “Asia in the Changing World: Moving toward Sound and Sustainable Development,” points toward number of challenges that Asia may face in coming years. While inaugurating the Annual Conference -2012, Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang informed the participants of China’s key challenges, its progress in different fields and the reforms agenda China is following for better management of economy. He stressed the need for an all-inclusive model of national growth and regional cooperation for tackling the challenges of growth and development. The other grave challenge highlighted by him include the food and energy security and balance growth with sustainable development. These challenges can be tackled with continued reform process which helps economies to adjust them according to the circumstances. The mega event was attended by representatives from government, business and academia from around the globe. China provides a good example for Pakistan. It’s astounding growth continues to attract foreign investment in billions, its reserves hovering above a whopping four trillion dollars. The economic strength of China has attracted the interest of Italian Prime Minister, Mario Monti, who appealed to China in a passionate way, ‘Will Chinese companies and government entities make more financial and industrial investments in Italy? I flew to Asia with this objective, to present my ideas and also urge Chinese investments in Italy and elsewhere in Europe to help ease Euro-Zone’s financial crisis.’ These developments point out that China is now assuming the leading role in the world with its strong economic progress. World is looking towards them for a lead role to bring their economies out of crisis.
Pakistan has to learn from China that the economy has the prime importance and no country can bring prosperity in the country without economic growth and development. Although Pakistan is pursuing a new growth strategy that focuses on sustainability of economic stability, promotion of private investments through incentive mechanisms, and expansion of trade ties with regional countries with several initiatives but the growth is not forthcoming. Under the new growth strategy, trade and tariff liberalization with China, transit trade agreement with Afghanistan, and the grant of the most favored nation status (MFN) to India are some of the important initiatives. These steps are expected to help Pakistan but there is a need for deeper reforms which may not be viable politically but important for the revival of the economy. Energy sector stand out alone among other challenges being faced by Pakistan. It has to think seriously to solve this growing energy problem. No country can achieve growth or sustain its growth without energy security. The energy crisis is deepening day by day and no solution seems working. The energy sector reforms are being adopted but with very slow pace. This is adding unsustainable burden on the national exchequer and now the circular debt is accumulated to 300 billion. Similarly the other public sector establishments are also need reforms.

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