Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB) partnered with the Whampoa Group to organize the Asia Business Summit on May 16 in Singapore. This exclusive in-person summit gathered senior Asian government officials, business leaders and academics, to shed light on emerging opportunities in innovation and investment within the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
15 influential speakers from six countries including China, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and India gathered together to address macroeconomic trends and micro-level challenges faced by entrepreneurs and investment leaders in RCEP. The event attracted over 200 senior business leaders representing multinational corporations, government departments, leading think tanks, media, and CKGSB programs. More than 35% of attendees were C-level executives and over 79% were director-level or higher.
During his keynote speech, Xiang Bing, CKGSB Founding Dean and Professor of China Business and Globalization, highlighted the challenges facing China’s economy.
Notably, Dean Xiang addressed concerns including an ageing and shrinking population, labor force decline, wealth inequality, and low business confidence. Meanwhile, he listed several opportunities for the world’s second largest economy, including strong economic performance, its large consumer market, a strong private sector, disruption caused by innovative technologies, and new rounds of deregulation.
The summit featured two insightful panel discussions. The first, titled “Navigating Global Uncertainties: The Perspective of RCEP,” was moderated by Professor Li Haitao, CKGSB Associate Dean and Dean’s Distinguished Chair Professor of Finance. Featured panelists included Taimur Baig, Managing Director and Chief Economist for Group Research at DBS Bank; Brian San, Executive Director, Programmes and Strategic Development, Wealth Management Institute; Katsuhiro Sato, Professor of Strategy and Finance, Waseda Business School; and CKGSB Alumnus Wang Guangyu, Founder and Chairman, China Soft Capital.
Taimur Baig from DBS Bank called on the need for the global economy to show more resilience than it has been portrayed in the markets, particularly in light of inflation coming down substantially, the favorable condition of companies’ balance sheets, and the absence of housing market collapse.
The second panel discussion, “Scaling Up in RCEP”, was moderated by Hau Lee, the Thoma Professor of Operations, Information & Technology, Stanford University. The panel featured Oi-yee Choo, CEO of ADDX; Willson Cuaca, Founding Partner of East Ventures; Kim Jong-yoon, CEO of Yanolja and Yanolja Cloud; and Liu Yongyan, Founder of Fintopia as panelists.
Willson Cuaca of East Ventures—Southeast Asia’s most active venture capital firm that has invested in over 300 tech companies including Indonesia’s unicorns like Tokopedia and Traveloka—commented on how companies can grow within RCEP. He said,
“there is no way you can develop a software in one country and just expand it to another”. Cuaca suggested that an e-commerce company should impress the consumer market first and then identify local problems to address.
Sun Tianshu, Professor of Information Systems and Director of the Center for Technology, Big Data and Digital Transformation at CKGSB, gave a closing keynote on global digital transformation. In his speech, Professor Sun said digital transformation is the new globalization and Singapore, as well as other RCEP countries, is becoming a convergence place of the digital ecosystem from China and the US.
“Singapore is at the center of the world across all four pillars of digital transformation: digital content, digital commerce, digital enabler and digital infrastructure,” said Dr Sun.
The Asia Business Summit also served as the kick-off to CKGSB’s Global Unicorn Program, a three-day intensive training program which took place in Singapore for the first time from May 17-19. This program equipped entrepreneurs, founders and venture capitalists with the necessary mindset, tools, and network to identify growth opportunities for their businesses in the RCEP market. It covered topics pertinent for developing next generation unicorn companies with an enhanced emphasis on global responsibility, social purpose and a long-term perspective.