Viewing stability as the key to the future of Asia, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday urged the Asian leaders to build bridges and strive for connectivity to make the region more peaceful and stable for its further development and prosperity.
“Indeed, we believe stability to be the key to the future of Asia. For that, we need to build bridges, strive for connectivity, both hard and soft and aspire for greater people to people exchanges and understanding,” she said.
The premier was speaking at a Commonwealth Business Forum event titled ‘Asian Leaders Roundtable: Can Asia Keep Growing’ at Guild Hall here yesterday morning.
Sheikh Hasina said: “Prosperity and equality within our borders will bring growth and growing together, we can create a more peaceful and stable region.”
She said, in a world where the more stable economies are fast becoming unpredictable, the Asian nations can show the way by offering a future that is more secure and visionary.
UK Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire delivered the welcome address, while CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, India Zarin Daruwala moderated the roundtable. The prime minister said the Asian countries need to be more inclusive in growth – not just within the nations but across the Asian region.
Pointing out the largest labour force, the biggest markets and the most plentiful deposits of natural resources, the premier said the past of the world belonged to Asia, and the future is also destined to belong to Asia.
“Most importantly, the people of Asia are driven by their resilience, hardworking ability, talent and optimism,” she said.
Mentioning that Asia achieved much in the last seventy years, Sheikh Hasina said the economic successes of Asian countries are considered ‘miracles’ by many economists and scholars.
She, however, said the countries in the region must remain cautious optimists – an attitude true to the Asian spirit – as the world is changing rapidly and digital and social media networks are bringing together people as well as tearing them apart.
The prime minister said that economic development is bringing prosperity but also creating inequality.
In this regard, she said, terrorism, conflicts, financial shocks and other emerging challenges threaten stability, while “there are enough obstacles and hazards on our way ahead.”
To face the challenges, Sheikh Hasina put emphasis on investing more in the youth, women and the citizens as a whole with the spirit, combined with cultivated talent of the Asians.
Besides, she stressed imparting training to the workforce in the skill sets needed for a digital, research, innovation and technology driven future Asia.