Boao Forum for Asia kicks off in Dubai

Governmental officials, policymakers and academics convened in Dubai to talk through the important financial issues that Asia is tackling currently, on the first day of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Financial Cooperation Conference

More than 300 high-ranking government officials, top executives from the finance and business world, policymakers and academics convened in Dubai today to discuss key financial challenges facing Asian countries and opportunities for integration, during the first day of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Financial Cooperation Conference. Former Vice Premier of China and the Vice Chairman of the BFA Zeng Peiyan opened the conference, which is hosted by the Government of Dubai.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, attended the opening. Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Al Qassimi, United Arab Emirates Minister of International Cooperation and Development, and Zhou Wenzhong, Secretary General of the BFA, delivered the opening remarks.

“This is the inaugural Boao Forum for Asia event to be hosted in the Middle East and the timing could hardly be better. The Asian continent is coming alive with new trade and exchange that is bringing us closer together. Countries, including China, are revisiting and reinvesting in a New Silk Road, ushering in a new era of Asian growth and prosperity,” Sheikha Lubna said.

We believe we can use financial cooperation as a way to boost the Asian economy

Zeng Peiyan, Former Vice Premier of China

For his part, Zhou Wenzhong emphasised the importance of closer cooperation in the financial sector in Asia. “Financial cooperation is pivotal to regional and international economic integration,” Zhou said. “We are delighted to move this conference to Dubai this time, a big city and growing financial hub between east and west.”

During his keynote address, Former Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan discussed the recent developments in the global economy, in particular the sharp drop in oil prices, which is indicative of shifting dynamics in the energy sector and the world economy as a whole.

“The world economy is beginning profound adjustment,” he said. “The momentum for economic recovery is insufficient, international trade has been growing much slower - from twice as fast as the global GDP, to being on par with the latter.”

In addition, there are varying degrees of recovery in the world’s major economies, oil and commodity prices are sliding, and there are adjustments to monetary policies across different countries. These all call for structural reform as a fundamental way to create growth points, he explained.

“As the world economic recovery remains weak in momentum and Asian economies face downward risks, it is more urgent than ever to discuss cooperation and strengthening of Asian regional economies,” he said. “We believe we can use financial cooperation as a way to boost the Asian economy. First we need to carry out bilateral currency swaps cooperation; they can reduce trade risks and help maintain regional financial stability.”

Boao Forum
High-profile delegates attending the Boao Forum for Asia Financial Cooperation Conference include: HE Tang Weibin Consul General, Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Dubai; HE Shaukat Aziz, former Prime Minister, Pakistan; HE Zeng Peiyan, Vice-Chairman, Boao Forum for Asia; former Vice Premier, China; and HE Abdulla Al Saleh, Undersecretary of the UAE Ministry of Economy – Foreign Trade and Industry

Also in attendance was His Excellency Shaukat Aziz, Former Prime Minister of Pakistan. Addressing the audience during the opening session, he highlighted Dubai’s increasing importance as a “valuable” global hub, which offers vital linkages between east and west. He also touched upon the changing world order and the emergence of Asia as an economic powerhouse, especially the “peaceful” rise of China. However, he noted there were threats to global stability, including extremism, terrorism, cyber attacks and economic disputes. Building linkages between countries can help overcome those challenges, he noted.

“Trade initiatives should be inclusive. The more countries [that] enter it would be helpful to the world. Progress is already being made… One example is the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a major landmark development for the world. This will be an important means for financing infrastructure projects all over the world and in particular, in Asia,” Aziz said.

The BFA is modeled after the World Economic Forum and is considered one of the leading platforms for discussing key topics around furthering collaboration between Asian countries. The event is held over a two-day period and aims to promote regional economic integration to bring Asian countries closer to achieving their development goals.