The “ABLF(Asia Business Leadership Forum) Leadership Weekend 2014” was held on December 13th and 14th, at the Armani Hotel, in the UAE’s iconic Burj Khalifa, under the patronage of H.H Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development,UAE. The theme of the event was “Asia Rising : Sustainable Leadership and Development in the 21st Century.”
The event witnessed a stellar attendee profile from across Asia and some of the biggest industrialists, policy decision makers, opinion leaders and key decision makers from international industry and leading sovereign wealth funds and investment authorities.Dr. R. Seetharaman, CEO of DohaBank was honoured with “The ABLF Business Economist award “on 13th Dec 2014 for his outstanding contribution in financial media in areas such as economics, financial markets, banking, finance and sustainable development through commentaries and opinions and for promoting bilateral trade and investment relationships between various countries.He received the award from H.E Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri Minister of Economy.
The other recipients of the ABLF award at the event include H.E Reem Ebrahim Al Hashmi, Ministry of state in the cabinet , UAE, H.H.Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak , H.E. Shaukat Aziz, Former Prime Minister, Pakistan, H.E. Mohamed Thani Murshed Ghannam Al Rumaithi, H.E. Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, H.R.H. Prince Saud Bin Khalid Al Faisal, Deputy Governor for Investment Affairs, Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority; and, President, National Competitiveness Centre (NCC), KSA, Fahd Al Rasheed, CEO and Managing Director, Emaar Economic City (EEC), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Dr. R. Seetharaman also participated in the panel session “Asian Economic Zeitgesit: A focus on risks and opportunities” on 14th Dec 2014. The other members in the panel include “H.E. P. Chidambaram, Former Union Minister of Finance and Former Home Minister, Government of India, Dr Hatem Samman, Chief Economist and Economic Advisor, Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Mrs.Naina Lal Kidwai, Executive Director on the Board of HSBC Asia-Pacific and Chairman of HSBC India.
Speaking in the Panel Dr. R. Seetharaman gave insight on Asian economies.“According to IMF October 2014 outlook, Asia pacific region is expected to remain at 5.5 percent in 2014 and rise to 5.6 percent in 2015. Asian economies have benefited from trade liberalisation, enjoyed rising income levels and have seen the emergence of a middle consumer class. It’s industrial base has boosted export growth. There is increase in working age population and wider use of foreign technology.It has also attracted significant foreign direct investment and portfolio investment in recent years. Qatar and UAE have been upgrade by MSCI in June 2014 and had attracted significant inflows.”
Dr.R. Seetharaman highlighted how Global Governance has emphasised on financial inclusion. He said”In recent G20 meeting held at Australia, itcommitted to take “strong practical measures” to prioritize financial inclusion while also approving an updated Financial Inclusion Action Plan.The updated Financial Inclusion Action Plan includes a specific focus on the role of emerging technologies in advancing financial inclusion. It also contains clear and measurable goals and indicators of success, as G20 countries aim to bring financial services to the 2.5 billion people and more than 200 million small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) currently not being served by the formal financial system. G20 also committed to reduce the global average cost of transferring remittances to five percent. “
Dr.R. Seetharaman gave insight on financial inclusion trends in Asia. He said “In Asia, many countries have employed financial inclusion as an important part of their strategies to achieve inclusive growth.In China reforms allowed the rural banking system, once dominated by state-owned banks, to diversify and enabled new market players to expand financial services to rural areas. In India, the first ever unique identification project, where identities are biometrically scanned, is enabling unbanked individuals to access credit and other banking services.Philippines showed how technological innovations, supported by good business models and government policies, can be harnessed to deliver low-cost and efficient financial services to the poor.Despite various initiatives the great challenge for Asia’s development is improving its citizens’ access to formal financial institutions like banks, credit unions, cooperatives, or post offices. Some of the ways to improve financial inclusion include mobile banking, branchless banking, micro finance, financial education and consumer protection.”
Dr.R. Seetharaman highlighted on Asia financial integration. He said “Asian economies tend to be more financially integrated with economies outside the region than inside, particularly with regard to portfolio investment. The Developing Asia has also attracted foreign direct investment (FDI) worth $426 billion in 2013 and remained the world’s leading recipient region. Further financial integration of Asian economies, both globally and regionally, should be pursued to strengthen Asia’s domestic sources of growth and improve the region’s economic resilience.”