Published On: 15/03/2021

– Al Hashemi: This is the first time that GBF will turn its focus to the ASEAN region – an emerging economic giant with a combined GDP of $2.9 trillion.

Dubai, UAE: Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently concluded its latest series of the Global Business Forum (GBF) virtual roadshows, which examined the business landscape in emerging markets across the ASEAN region.

Several high-level focus groups were organised as part of the roadshows over the last six months, which were joined by prominent businessmen, trade officials and other stakeholders from a wide range of economic sectors.

During the roadshows, discussions highlighted key trends reshaping ASEAN economies post-Covid, including digitalization and the rise of e-commerce, the shift to working from home and flexible working hours, the development of manufacturing sector, as well as participants shared topics to discuss at the inaugural GBF ASEAN, including food security, agriculture, trade, investment, logistics, energy and knowledge economy.

According to the participants, Singapore and Dubai share many synergies as strategic trade and business hubs for their respective region. The two economies continue to diversify and invest in developing new sectors and capabilities. Serving as a preferred trade and investment hub for many companies in Southeast Asia, Dubai’s strategic geographic position can help ASEAN expand their global footprint across the Middle East and Africa.

Participants also mentioned that Covid-19 brought ASEAN governments together to cooperate and it will provide the framework for future trade development, adding that the private sector needs to align with the government priorities as well. In Singapore, for example, sustainability and digitalisation are the government’s priorities and there are vast opportunities to co-innovate between the two sectors.

Indonesia sees opportunities in carbon markets, participants noted, while Philippines is seeking opportunities in investing in agriculture, energy supply partnerships, investing in power projects, food security, healthcare and infrastructure development. Meanwhile, Cambodia is looking to attract foreign investment in its agriculture sector as it offers incentives such as import duty exemptions and tax windows.

In addition, attendees said that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is an exciting opportunity as it brings together 30% of the global economy and a huge population, adding that the partnership can address pressing challenges such as infrastructure development, public sector efficiency, education gap and healthcare delivery.

Hassan Al Hashemi, Vice President of International Relations at Dubai Chamber, said that the Global Business Forum ASEAN Virtual Roadshow is the latest in a series of efforts laying the groundwork for a world-class forum in 2021. Last year, Dubai Chamber hosted a diplomatic briefing, which created awareness about the forum and garnered support among ambassadors and consul generals, he explained.

“This is the first time that this high-profile Global Business Forum will turn its focus to the ASEAN region. Our decision to do so stems from our strong belief in the vast potential that ASEAN has to offer as an emerging economic giant with a combined GDP of $2.9 trillion,” said Al Hashemi.

Al Hashemi revealed that Dubai’s non-oil trade with ASEAN countries exceeded $21 billion in 2018, with the emirate’s imports from the region accounting for 77 percent of the total trade value, adding that there still is plenty of scope for companies in Dubai to boost exports of plastics, halal food, ceramics, dates and other products to ASEAN markets in the future.

The valuable feedback shared during the roadshows will be used to shape the agenda of the upcoming GBF ASEAN in Dubai, a premier international event that will be held during Expo 2020 Dubai, he explained. He added that the high-level business forum is the largest event of its kind outside of the continent, as well as an ideal platform for exploring new avenues of economic cooperation.

The Global Business Forum is Dubai Chamber’s flagship event series providing a platform for high-level dialogue between Dubai and emerging markets that offer business potential. Organised in partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai, the upcoming forums will address macroeconomic developments, key challenges and opportunities emerging in the region through thought-provoking discussions and direct dialogue between government and business leaders.