Panel: Business, Economy & Labour

With global markets in an economic recession, issues involving business, economy, and labour have become vital for the future of world economic development and the survival of local communities.

On the one hand, businesses and emerging economies in Asia and the Pacific, such as Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines, among others), have produced laws and structural reforms aiming at developing business environments. Indonesia, for example, issued a Presidential Decree opening key sectors of the economy to foreign investments. In addition, the country has promoted changes in labor laws. Furthermore, these countries have a large mass of young, specialized, and prepared workers to lead the development of these emerging economies, especially in the areas of technology and medicine, as is the case of India. 

On the other hand, historical problems related to working conditions remain. Although the low labour cost in these countries may attract significant foreign investments, labour exploitation is still a major concern According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), we find the greatest absolute number of forced workers in the Asia-Pacific region.

Unmistakably, the pandemic brought further challenges to these contexts. China, for instance, has faced economic problems with the zero COVID policy, in which lockdowns in cities vital to the world economy, such as Shanghai and Shenzhen, have caused a significant drop in Chinese GDP. However, the country's growth is projected to remain positive, and Beijing promises subsidies and investments to improve economic and employment rates. 

In the field of international finance, China has two of the largest stock exchanges in the world, the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges, which allow Chinese and foreign investors to issue bonds to finance their industrial and technology-related projects. Consequently, it might accelerate the region's economic development and the world.

The Belt & Road Initiative, one of the most ambitious and spatially far stretching connectivity project, brings together a number of countries in Asia, such as Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea, promoting green and sustainable investments.

Recent reports by the McKinsey consultancy demonstrated that the experience of the wealthiest Asian countries and the still large labor force in the region's emerging economies foster a collaborative effect that has driven the development in Asia.

Despite the many challenges to overcome, China, India, and the other economies in Asia are trying to be resilient in an era in which we have an ongoing war in Europe (Ukraine war) and the shadow of COVID affecting world markets and supply chains.

Given these facts, this panel aims to bring to the academic debate not only the concerns of civil society and the business acumen but also the various governmental economic plans. Among other issues, we aim to discuss governments' initiatives to promote business and sustainable development, as well as their drawbacks and hurdles. In other words, This includes but it is not limited to reforms seeking to reduce corruption and increase legal certainty, incentives to attract foreign investments, as well as the promotion of entrepreneurship in Asia and the Pacific. The discussion will strive to introduce new reflections on the impacts of these initiatives on local communities and social development and the new reality brought by the pandemic and digital evolution.

What is the future of digital currencies as game changers in consumer behavior and overall patterns of economic activity in Asia and the Pacific? How does the ever more trending role of cryptocurrencies as disruptors of traditional banking and finance impact international financial markets? How can some of the most innovation-led countries in the region, such as China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Australia, help expand the business and jobs in Asia and the Pacific and promote social development? What are the consequences of these policies to the wellbeing of society? What do they mean in terms of income distribution and welfare? How do international investors currently perceive Asia and the Pacific? What lessons in entrepreneurship may be found in Asia and the Pacific? 

Finally, we have all confidence that the atmosphere of this panel, as well as the conference, will be conducive to promoting a rich discussion about the future of Asia and the Pacific in relation to the complex dynamics of business, economy, and labour.


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