Analysis

Multilateralism at the heart of Boao Forum for Asia

Mahendra Subedi

The_2019_Boao_Forum_for_Asia_announces_agenda

The Boao Forum for Asia 2019 concluded in the Chinese Boao city of Hainan with a strong call for upholding multilateralism, global governance and broader cooperation. The heads of governments, business leaders, think tanks and experts present in the BFA committed themselves to “Shared Future, Concerted Action, Common Development”— the theme of this year’s BFA.

This year, the forum witnessed multiple series of panel discussions on tourism, regional cooperation, technological innovation, changed media landscape, artificial intelligence, development, among others. As a platform for open and inclusive dialogue, the BFA has relayed a clear message to build global consensus on key issues, analysts said.

Established in 2001, the Boao Forum for Asia is a non-governmental forum committed to promoting regional economic integration. The univocal stance on keeping the UN-centered international system and rules-based multilateral trading system, promotion of trade and investment liberalization, fair trade reflecting multilateral, inclusive and non-discriminatory principles are described as the hallmark of the Boao Forum for Asia, 2019. During the event, the experts shared their insights on building consensus and contributing to promoting peace, stability, development and prosperity in Asia and the world. However, lack of Nepal’s official presence in the high-level annual forum was understandably a missed opportunity to benefit from the serious and live discussions that took place among the experts.

Nepal’s Prime Ministers attended the Boao Forum for Asia in 2016 and 2017 but there was no high-level participation in the BFA in 2018 and this year too. It may be noted that Nepal’s then King Birendra Shah was invited as the special guest in the inaugural session of the BFA’s inception year in 2001. “The BFA is established by China for harnessing economic cooperation among the Asian countries. This is also one of the key forums to expand China’s reform and opening-up policy. It has great importance in the future economic prospects and Nepal should not have missed it, Chetnath Acharya, Foreign Expert of China Radio International (CRI) Nepali Service told RSS.

He is of the view that we should attach top priority to this Forum to reap more benefits adding that Nepal should cash in the BFA and exchange cooperation to lure investments, especially in tourism.

In the inaugural session of the event, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that this year’s BFA has taken concerted actions to address challenges on the basis of consultation and coordination and has pursued common development, which is inclusive and intending to deliver benefits to all. He added that we need to embrace the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, advocate the spirit of partnership. “The world should work together to seize opportunities, embrace challenges, seek win-win results in cooperation and inject confidence to the world economy with an open mind, inclusiveness and coordinated action,” Premier Li said.

During the event, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations (UN) and BFA signed a cooperation document for sustainable development ultimately supporting the UN efforts on meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

On the occasion, BFA Secretary General Li Baodong stressed that firm support for multilateralism and globalization is the most important outcome and the most encouraging message from this year’s forum. However, analysts called for more deliberations and panel discussions in areas of regional cooperation, education in the changed global order, climate change, human mobility among others since these are the global hotcakes at present.

Former UN Secretary General and Chairman of the Boao Forum for Asia Ban Ki-moon said that BFA is effortful to promote multilateralism and free trade by keeping globalization at the centre and urged the parties concerned to seize the new opportunities for shared future.

Earlier, three separate annual reports on ‘Asian Financial Development’, ‘Progress of Asian Economic Integration’ and ‘Asian Competitiveness’ were released in Boao. Of them, the Asian Competitiveness describes Nepal as an ‘agricultural country one of the least developed countries’ with poor status in human capital and innovation capability, overall economic vitality, commercial and administrative efficiency and infrastructure. RSS

Comments