Rishaad Salamat, TV Anchor/Reporter, Bloomberg, Hong Kong SAR, is captured during the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, June 6.,2013. Copyright World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org) Photo by Sikarin Thanachaiary[/caption]

Bloomberg TV’s focus on delivering breaking stories from Asia to the world’s business and financial communities took us to Myanmar last week to cover the World Economic Forum on East Asia 2013. In Myanmar’s capital, Naypyidaw, my colleagues reported on Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s intention to run for president in elections two years from now. For Bloomberg TV, Haslinda Amin and I interviewed Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi, AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes and WPP CEO Martin Sorrell on their Myanmar strategy and positive outlook for Asia.

I also had the privilege of moderating an hour-long debate, which kicked off the two-day WEF programme. Five government and corporate leaders traded views on the opportunities and challenges in strengthening East Asia trade networks and boosting ASEAN integration.

Asked about the risks involved in ASEAN integration, the two government leaders on the panel, Kittiratt Na-Ranong Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Thailand and Cesar V. Purisima, Secretary of Finance of the Philippines, singled out the forces of nationalism and bilateralism. “The mindset and understanding of people” needed to change to embrace integration, noted Kittiratt while Purisima said countries cannot lose sight of “Asean centrality” in thinking about their relationship with the rest of the world. “In any integration process, you need a lot of trust.…we need to prove to our people that they will win in an integrated Asean,” said Purisima.

The business leaders focused on how Asean could continue on its growth path together with its neighbours. Yorihiko Kojima, Chairman of the Board, Mitsubishi Corporation, Japan, spoke of Asia’s “economic diversity” – with different countries being able to support different industries across the value chain – as the secret of its sustained economic growth.

Harish Manwani, Chief Operating Officer, Unilever, Singapore stressed the need for harmonisation and simplification of business regulations to further tap on intra-Asian trade opportunities. Tarek Sultan Al Essa, Chairman and Managing Director, Agility, Kuwait, called for more attention to fixing supply chain chokes. One initiative he suggested was for each country to have a national regulator to work on supply chain competitiveness, as “if 10% of growth is at stake, then it makes sense from a policy perspective to have such a body.”

The debate ended with the participants’ upbeat outlook for the region, reflecting what I’d identify as a sense of pride in how far Asean has come in the last decade amidst Asia’s increasing influence on global markets. Bloomberg TV continuously aims to be the first to break fast, accurate and market-moving news from Asia and we were excited to be at the first-ever multi-stakeholder gathering in Myanmar. Myanmar is one of Asia’s most exciting economic frontiers and this fact was not lost on the over 900 leaders from 55 countries at last week’s meetings.

The debate will be televised on Bloomberg TV on 14 June at 6pm SGT/HKT.

 

Rishaad Salamat, Bloomberg TV’s Senior Correspondent and Anchor, based in Hong Kong