An array of national flags ready to greet 2009's record number of delegates. Huang Yiming
This year's Boao Forum For Asia (BFA) is aiming to provide a platform for emerging economies to exchange idea on how to cope with the ongoing financial crisis, according to organizers
Outlining the agenda for the 2009 event, Long Yongtu, the forum's secretary-general said: "Developed economies have long-dominated international media. Our aim is to offer a platform for emerging economies to present their voices. This is particularly important against the backdrop of the current financial crisis.
"The role of emerging economies in reforming the international financial system will be a key topic of the forum."
This year's BFA meeting, under the theme: "Asia: Managing beyond crisis", will be held from April 17 to 19 in Boao, a former fishing village in South China's Hainan province.
Leaders from 12 nations, including China's Premier Wen Jiabao, will join more than 1,000 delegates to discuss a range of issues, including the prospects for the global economy and the challenges facing Asian nations. The former US President, George W Bush, and former Japanese Prime Minister, Yasuo Fukuda, will also be attending the meeting.
Discussions will focus on the need to review existing financial systems following the impact of the financial crisis. The forum follows on from the recent G20 summit in London which saw leaders from the world's 20 major industrialized and developing economies pledging 1 trillion yuan to bolster international financial institutions, including the IMF.
G20 leaders also agreed to increase the representation of developing economies among the management of the International Monetary Fund. This is an acknowledgment of their growing importance to the world economy.
Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of China's central bank, will be one of the key participants in discussions of the role of emerging economies in rebuilding the world financial system.
A few days before the G20 summit in London, Zhou called on world markets to replace the dollar with a new international reserve currency, under the auspices of the International Monetary Fund.
Long said: "We can expect him to elaborate on this theme during the forum. We also intend to consider just how to battle with the rising tide of protectionism and look at the best ways to maintain trade and investment for emerging economies."
Emerging economies have been hit hard by the ongoing financial crisis. As world trade has collapsed, foreign investment in this sector has been considerably reduced.
A March 8 report by the World Bank, showed that 94 out of 116 developing countries have now experienced a slowdown in economic growth. Of these countries, 43 have levels of poverty well above the international average.
The report also indicated that these developing economies face a financial shortfall of some $270-700 billion this year. According to World Bank figures, only one in four of the affected countries has the resources to ward off a likely rise in poverty levels.
Some of the most globally respected financial figures, including China's commerce minister, Chen Deming, and Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organization, will be leading talks aimed at ending the current impasse in the Doha world trade negotiations.
Discussion is, again, expected to focus on the problems of protectionism and agricultural subsidies.
Senior business representatives from a number of the world's leading companies, including the China Investment Corp and Google, are also expected to contribute to the debate on managing the current financial downturn.
Long said: "We believe that the interchange of ideas from some of the finest minds working in the international financial community can only benefit Asian countries in determining the best way out of the current financial situation."
Established in February 2001, the Boao Forum has rapidly become established as the Asian equivalent of the World Economic Forum (also know as "Davos", the name of the Swiss city which is its annual setting).
Boao is now a vital platform for government, business and academics in promoting regional economic integration and bringing Asian countries and regions closer to their development goals.
(China Daily 04/17/2009 page20)