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Southeast Asian economies remain robust and open for business

The panel expressed confidence that the political leadership in Myanmar and Indonesia will drive economic reforms, and highlighted the robustness of Philippines and Thailand's economies despite the global media's portrayal of their relatively instable domestic politics. Moreover, governments in Southeast Asia are keeping their economies open, integrating with the global economy and actively partnering with the private sector on infrastructure developments. The pace of technology adoption in countries such as Myanmar and Indonesia have also leapfrogged other developing countries, enabling the creation of new markets and employment opportunities.

Asian businesses are ready to partner with global multi-nationals and urge more action by governments to aid regional integration

The panel shared that ASEAN businesses were ready and predisposed to work together with MNCs from US and Europe, but would need to foster stronger collaboration amongst themselves to capture global opportunities. On the other hand, the panel recognized that the pace of implementing regional economic integration policies within ASEAN remained slow. This could be attributed to the conflicting interest at the national and regional level. Governments in the region could do more to overcome non-tariff barriers.

Southeast Asia's youth are ready to work but investments in education and skills training are key

While the panel was optimistic about ASEAN's tech-savvy millennial workforce, they recognised that investment into education is integral to help realise the full potential of the demographic dividend, and the focus should be placed on technical areas such as engineering, accounting, digital and medicine. In addition, the private sector has a greater role to play in education and equipping the youth with the necessary skillsets to adapt to a digital economy.

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