This century to be 'Asian century'

update But only if economies in the region get their act together and focus on four key areas including education, infrastructure and corporate governance, says Philippine finance secretary at Global Entrepolis Singapore summit.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

update SINGAPORE--Investments in people and education, infrastructure, corporate governance and the environment are four key areas Asian nations must work on if the region is to be the world's preeminent economic powerhouse.

This was the call made by the Philippines' finance secretary, Cesar V. Purisima, who was speaking at the annual Global Entrepolis @ Singapore (GES) summit here Tuesday. Held from Oct. 17 to 20, the GES gathers global business and political leaders who convene to discuss strategies about the economic environment.

In his ministerial keynote at the event, Purisima said: "This century will be the Asian century, if we get our act together."

Pointing to the four key areas, he said these were important issues Asian countries must focus on because whether the region achieved its goal to be a global economic powerhouse remained uncertain and was still "not preordained".

The Philippine minister also emphasized the importance of creating a culture of entrepreneurship in Asia, one which embraces challenges and risk-taking as well as challenges the status quo and addresses, rather than admonishes, failure.

He added that it was important for nations to constantly reinvent and readjust themselves.

Elaborating on one of the four critical areas, improving infrastructure, Purisima said this should include physical, institutional and IT infrastructures because these were essential to support enterprises. Running a business in itself is difficult and poor infrastructure lessens a company's chances of success, he explained.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino, for instance, aims to take advantage of IT to make it easier to do business in the country, such as establishing an Internet registry to make it easier for business executives to register their companies online, Purisima said.

Noting that some of the richest and poorest countries resided within the Asian region, the minister added that reducing the infrastructure gap between Asian countries was critical to helping businesses and entrepreneurs look across national borders.

Corporate governance was another critical area to look into, considering that a big reason for the 1998 Asian financial crisis was due to the low state of corporate governance, he said.

"Good governance is good economics," he said, pointing to Aquino's stance. Purisima explained that a high level of corporate governance would create more confidence in the business sector, which, in turn, would drive more investments, create more jobs--so consumers have more money to buy--and business have more products to sell.

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