Governments of the ASEAN member states should design suitable policies to control risks and seize opportunities related to the return of their expatriates, said speakers at a discussion within the framework of the 2018 World Economic Forum on ASEAN (WEF ASEAN) in Hanoi on September 13.
A session of the WEF ASEAN 2018 in Hanoi
The discussion on the ASEAN expat network revolved around the role of the group in each country’s development strategies, particularly amid the Fourth Industrial Revolution which has created various socio-economic changes.
It delved into the economic impact of the group and ways for the home nations to capitalise on returning expatriates’ resources and capacities, particularly in technology transfer.
At the session, Jose Isidro Camacho, Managing Director of the Asia-Pacific Division of the Credit Suisse Group, highlighted the importance of the expat network.
Camacho, also former Secretary of Finance of the Philippines, said remittances now account for about 10 percent of the Philippines’ GDP, which is used for domestic spending or investment in the private sector, describing this a driver of the economy.
He said many Filipinos are working in developed countries, particularly the Silicon Valley. When these expatriates come home, they bring along new technologies and skills, becoming pioneers in technology transfer, Camacho added.
Remittances fuelled the development of Bangladesh’s private companies during the 1990s, said Foreign Secretary of the Bangladesh Shahidul Haque.
He said overseas Bangladeshis and foreigners to the country have made significant contributions to helping the country’s progress in technology and labour skills.
Participating speakers agreed that more positive manoeuvres from the respective governments are needed to encourage expats looking at returning.
They said favourable policies, a good investment and working environment, and a trustworthy social welfare system are initial factors to attracting the community.
Professor Lutfey Siddiqi, a visiting Professor-in-Practice at the London School of Economics and Political Science, suggested an increase in marketing campaigns targeting young expats.
He highlighted the necessary of a connection between the expatriate community and their countryfolks at home.
A marketing campaign on the country’s image, policy, working conditions and multi-cultural society is worth investing in to attract expats’ contributions, he said.
The three-day WEF ASEAN, themed “ASEAN 4.0: Entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, was started in Hanoi on September 11. This is the third time the WEF has chosen Vietnam as the venue for a regional WEF.
The WEF was established in 1971 as a non-profit foundation and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The forum engages the foremost political, business, and other leaders of society so as to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.