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Public Forum: Asia and the Middle Income Trap (MIT)

(From left) Dr Francis Hutchinson, ISEAS Senior Fellow; Mr George Yeo, Chairman and Executive Director, Kerry Logistics Network and Mr Tan Chin Tiong, Director, ISEAS at the opening session of the Public Forum: Asia and the Middle Income Trap.

ISEAS and the Pacific Trade and Development Conference (PAFTAD) co-organised a public forum on "Asia and the Middle Income Trap" on Wednesday, 3 June 2015 at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Singapore.

Mr George Yeo, Chairman and Executive Director, Kerry Logistics Network and former Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs delivered his keynote speech on "The New Silk Road: Ramifications on the Global Economy" where he discussed China's ambitious plan to revive what it calls the "Two Silk Roads": The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to traverse the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, and the Silk Road Economic Belt, an overland route running through Central Asia. 

 Mr George Yeo delivering his keynote speech on "The New Silk Road: Ramifications on the Global Economy".

Mr Yeo opined that even as China seeks to rebuild the ancient Silk Road, there are opportunities for Southeast Asian nations to tap into and will change the political and economic landscape of the region. He added that just as the old silk road was important to China's economy in the past, the new efforts - not only overland but also maritime - are seen as key to greater connectivity between the Chinese mainland, Europe and Asia.

The keynote address was followed by a panel discussion led by Professor Hal Hill, Professor of Economics, Australian National University; Dr Homi Kharas, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; Professor Justin Yifu Lin, Professor of Economics, Peking University; and Dr Emmanuel Jimenez, Executive Director, International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie). 

(From left) Panellists:  Dr Emmanuel Jimenez, Professor Hal Hill, Professor Justin Yifu Lin, and Dr Homi Kharas.

The panel discussed the conceptual underpinnings of the Middle Income Trap, the specific challenges facing Southeast Asia and China, as well as the importance of human capital. 

Over 150 participants from the business and finance community, diplomatic community, policymakers, and academics from Singapore and around the region attended the forum.

Participants at the Forum.