Amid the slowdown in many of the world’s most important emerging markets, and the continued sluggish growth in most of the world’s developed economies, Southeast Asia has recorded strong economic growth rates that have allowed the region to become an important driver of global economic, trade and investment advances. There are a few reasons why Asia is poised to remain a global growth leader. Its progress has been steered by rising demand levels in Southeast Asia’s domestic market. With rising wealth levels and a population of 660 million, Southeast Asia’s domestic market potential is vast and will play a more important role in attracting foreign investment to the region in the coming years. Moreover, the improving level of political stability across Southeast Asia in recent years has helped to propel increases in foreign investment. Significant growth will also be generated by Southeast Asia’s three most-populous countries – Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines – as each of these countries emerge as key centres of low-cost export-oriented manufacturing.
Bolstered by recent foreign-policy successes, China appears determined to play a larger international leadership role. Its vision for global economic growth could be of great benefit to the world. It continues to defend globalisation and the global economic order by securing free trade and investment flows at a time of uncertainties. China is also becoming a more active participant in the UN. It is currently the third-largest donor to the UN’s budget after America and Japan and is the second-largest contributor, after America, to the UN’s peacekeeping. Moreover, Chinese diplomats are already reassuring the world that China will keep and even expand its climate commitments.
Tensions in the region could, however, threaten rising growth rates. Increasing frictions on the Korean Peninsula are already causing economic damage to Asia’s biggest economies, and the cost could worsen in both human and financial terms if pressures are not eased. Continued North Korean provocations, including additional nuclear and missile tests, might worsen stability in the region and prompt neighboring countries to take actions to protect their security interests.
This talk will also underscore Singapore’s incredible transformation from the time it was born as a tiny and underdeveloped country in 1965 when it gained its independence. It had no natural resources and a population of relatively recent immigrants with little shared history. However, Singapore has succeeded in improving the living standards of its people faster and more comprehensively than any other society. This was achieved through the exceptional leadership of the country’s first prime minister, the late Lee Kuan Yew, as well as that of other men of vision and dedication, such as Mr. Rajaratnam, Singapore’s first foreign minister, in whose honour this much-esteemed institution of higher learning was built.
About the Speaker:
John Key was Prime Minister of New Zealand from 2008 to 2016, winning three general elections as leader of the centre-right National Party. He led the country through the aftermath of the global financial crisis and a series of devastating earthquakes in New Zealand’s second-biggest city. When he retired from office, New Zealand had one of the highest growth rates and best fiscal positions of any advanced economy.
Mr Key was well respected in international affairs and chaired the International Democrat Union and the United Nations Security Council in 2016. After retiring from politics, Mr Key has been appointed as a Director on the board of Air New Zealand and as Patron of the Worldwide Support for Development (WSD) amongst other companies and organisations.
Prior to entering politics in 2002, Mr Key worked in investment banking for 20 years primarily for Bankers Trust in New Zealand and Merrill Lynch in Singapore, London and Sydney. Mr Key’s most recent positions included heading Merrill Lynch’s global foreign exchange business along with responsibility for European derivative trading and E. Commerce.
In 1999, Mr Key was invited to join the Foreign Exchange Committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He grew up in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he gained a degree in accountancy and later undertook short course studies at Harvard University.
Mr Key is married to Bronagh and is father to Stephie and Max. He is a keen golfer and rugby fan.