Asia and Europe have the “unique opportunity” provided by the new international environment to become closer partners, according to a multi-sectoral panel of experts convened by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF).
As a celebration event for the 20th anniversary of ASEF, the Panel Discussion “Asia & Europe: The Dawning of a New Era?” was held on 8 June 2017 in the National University of Singapore. Co-organised by ASEF, the Foreign Correspondents’ Association (FCA) Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP), the Panel attracted around 300 audience members, including ASEF Governors, Heads of Missions and other senior diplomats in Singapore, as well as representatives from international organisations, think tanks and universities, as well as the private sector.
“We have the unique opportunity to act in tandem to champion free trade, globalisation, and sustainable development”, said Professor Tommy KOH, Ambassador-at-Large from the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ASEF’s first Executive Director, commenting on the implications of the shifting US foreign policy under President Donald TRUMP for Asia-Europe relations.
In his keynote speech, Professor Kishore MAHBUBANI, Dean of LKYSPP, also emphasised the need for the 2 regions to “come together” through the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and create institutions on global governance: “Let Asia and Europe work together and strengthen its hand”, he added.
Moderator Sharanjit LEYL, BBC Presenter and Producer and FCA President, noted that traditional allegiances will be tested by the “new world order”.
“We need to define what our own interests are in Asia and Europe. We also need to define our common interests”, said Prof Dr Helmut HAUSSMANN, the longest-serving ASEF Governor who was the former Federal Minister of Economics of Germany.
Emphasising education as a key area for international collaboration to counter the rising populism, Dr KIM Gwang-jo, Director of the UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, commented: “Working with educators in Asia and Europe will have positive results in the long-term”.
According to Prof Beatrice WEDER DI MAURO, an economist from the Emerging Markets Institute at INSEAD Singapore, the youth has a significant role in promoting and upholding inclusion.
Ms Hillary BRIFFA, Doctoral Candidate from the King’s College in London, added that both “formal and non-formal” channels are valuable for young people to learn about other cultures and perspectives. Ms BRIFFA was a participant of the 20th ASEF Summer University (ASEFSU20), a 3-week project that aims to promote cross-cultural exchanges among youth from ASEM countries.
ASEF Executive Director, Ambassador Karsten WARNECKE said the event is an example of how ‘diversity creates’, alluding to the organisation’s tagline that celebrates its history of creating connections between Asia and Europe: “ASEF brings people from different professional, cultural and political backgrounds together to create something new — new ideas, new perspectives, new solutions for a better future”.
The Panel Discussion was held also as a side event of the 36th ASEF Board of Governors’ Meeting.