Regional cooperation to facilitate closer trade integration and financial links in South East Asia

In order to enhance the overall productivity and increase employment opportunities, developing economies such as Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, among others, are moving towards regional collaboration. It has more significance in the Southeast Asian region because most of the countries in this part of the world are still going through a transition phase, from “a developing” to “a developed world”.

As per the participants in a recent roundtable organized by South East Asian Cooperation (Seaco) Foundation and World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) Foundation at the Radisson Blu Water Garden hotel in Dhaka, the collaboration will promote closer trade integration along with stronger institutions and financial links.

The function was inaugurated by chief guest Salman F Rahman, who is the private industry and investment adviser to the dynamic Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and a parliament member from Dhaka 1 constituency. Besides Salman, Tun Musa Hitam, Chairman of WIEF Foundation and Salahuddin Kasem Khan, executive chairman, Seaco Foundation, were also present at the occasion.

Though the theme of the function was “Regional Collaboration: Transforming Economies,” the participants readily discussed about the future direction of the halal industry as well as the opportunities for infrastructure development.
“Both regional and international cooperation are the government’s vital focus areas,” said Salman F Rahman, adding that instead of considering our large population as a liability, we can constructively facilitate our vision with the upright skill development model in Bangladesh.
The adviser, who is a successful businessman himself, added that to meet the upcoming challenges of the fourth industrial revolution, they would have to create a strong backbone starting from the rural level, across the country.

Speaking about the work done by the Sheikh Hasina led Awami League government, Salman F Rahman said that the government has already set a data center for every 2,500 unions in the country. In the future as well, plans are to increase the number of computers in schools— an effort to facilitate the dream of a “Digital Bangladesh”.

Salahuddin Kasem Khan, executive chairman, Seaco Foundation and international advisory panel member of WIEF Foundation, said that we need to improve the overall trade, investment, tourism, and cooperation to improve the socioeconomic situation of a community, while Islamic Development Bank can continue to play the financial role under their special development program (SDP).

Additionally, the participants also stressed upon the importance of a cumulative collaboration between both the private and public sectors from South Asian economies to enhance infrastructure financing.

With representatives from across the world, functions like these can complement the overall growth of the South-South East region, for the countries in the region can now pitch the right development models and investment plans.