Boao Forum – New paradigm and new direction for Asia and the world
Since the end of WW2, the world economies have seen a good solid 70 years of economic growth and prosperity under a world system that encourages free trade and globalization. Though growth was disproportionate and not every country could maximize the benefits from the free global trading system, still every country was progressing in a peaceful environment other than those bogged down by wars.
The economic developments of post war years are a stark contrast from the pre war years marked by unequal treaties and brutal exploitations of colonized nations by the powers of the day. Trade agreements were anything but fair. Many colonized Asian, African and Latin American countries bore the brunt of colonial conquest and looting of their natural and national resources and were forced to accept one sided trade agreements dictated by the colonial powers leading to an imbalance in the growth of colonial economies against the deprivation and depletion of colonized economies.
The world has since benefitted from a fairer global system as it enters the 21st Century. This era of peace and free global trading system is now facing mounting challenges, from the threats of war and anti free trade led by the USA. The USA is on a path of self isolation and threatening to disrupt and destroy the free global trading system that it helped to build as the undisputed leader of the free world and free economy after WW2.
The world must stand together to protect his free global trading system where nations are free to negotiate bilaterally or multi laterally in trade agreements, on an equal basis, to benefit all parties. The current trading system is as fair as one could get without the use of force and threats. Multi lateral trade agreements have proven to be beneficial to its members, big and small. To change this arrangement and to revert to bilateral trading systems and isolationism is a regressive step backward that countries of the world would stand to lose and may lead to greater inter state tension and even trade wars.
The world has progressed and has developed many avenues for greater cooperation and integration as members of an interconnected and interdependent community for the benefits of all nations. Member countries attending the Boao Forum are testaments to the achievements and faith of a more interconnected world based on free trades and globalization. While the Americans are heading towards isolationism and giving up its leadership of the free global trading system, Asian countries should step up to continue the trend for free trade and globalization, to assume leadership for more freedom for nations to trade freely as independent and equal members of this brave and free new world. Nations must seek partnership and alliances for trade and peaceful cooperation, not military alliances for wars, for protectionism, to threaten other countries with military powers.
There is a need for a new leadership to advance free trade and globalization, with or without the USA, over countries that are seeking the isolationist path. Asia should take the lead in this new direction for the good of countries of the world.
At the Boao forum Xi Jinping said that the theme－’Globalization and Free Trade: The Asian Perspectives－reflected the keen attention on the issue from the international community, especially in Asia.’ He went on to laud ‘the role of the forum in building an Asian consensus, promoting Asian cooperation and upgrading Asian influence since its establishment 16 years ago.’ Asia’s role in contributing to a constructive dialogue and initiative in globalization and free trade would only grow as more Asian countries joined the journey for higher economic growth and development.
In the same forum, Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said, ‘Asia is an ideal region to lead the next phase of globalization, and future efforts should focus on increasing inclusiveness to avoid dividing people into winners and losers.’ Asia would have no choice but to take the lead for a new paradigm in free trade and globalization in the face of new challenges as it enters the 21st Century with new dynamics and amidst rising tension and threats to the established free trade global system. There is no other option but to soldier on under a system that is free, fair and equal and proven to be functional.