New Economy Forum: UAE delegation to help find solutions to world’s most pressing problems

A UAE delegation is taking part in a global forum in Singapore, which begins on Tuesday, we report from Singapore

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The UAE has the chance to play a critical role in efforts by the new leading economies, such as China, to find solutions to some of the world’s most challenging crises, such as refugees and gender inequality.

A delegation from the Emirates is taking part in a global forum in Singapore, which begins on Tuesday.

The New Economy Forum, convened by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, is bringing together the new leaders of those countries that have emerged fastest in the past 20 years, in recognition of their relatively increased global influence in the future.

“A new community for a new economy is what we are calling it,” Justin B Smith, chief executive of Bloomberg Media, said on Monday.

Economic and demographic growth advantages mean that together those markets — China and India, South-East Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America — are “really going to be the centre of the future of the growth of the global economy”, Mr Smith said.

“The UAE is as much a symbol of the new economy as any country in the world and the role the UAE is playing in this emerging new global economy is incredibly important.

“Look at the relationship between the UAE and China from an energy perspective.

“It is very distinctive and very unique.”

The UAE delegation, which includes business leaders from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, is led by Minister of State Dr Sultan Al Jaber, who is also chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

Adnoc signed several deals with Chinese companies this year, including downstream investment and a landmark seismic onshore and offshore survey, when China's President Xi Jinping visited the UAE in July.

The Singapore forum also aims to bring together the private sector to support efforts to resolve the “increasingly difficult and cross-border challenges and problems” the world is facing in developed and developing countries.

“Social inequality, financial inequality, gender inequality, climate change, trade access to finance and capital markets — all these different issues are in many instances getting more difficult and governments and public sector institutions have had an increasingly difficult time getting their arms around it and realising tangible progress and solutions,” Mr Smith said.

“It is all about action, measurable progress, outputs.”

The forum is smaller than the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, to which it is being compared, with 400 chief executives, thought leaders, government officials and former ministers and prime ministers.

Davos typically attracts more than about 3,000 delegates.

The New Economy Forum is expected to be held in China a year from now. This forum was originally going to be there until a change of plans after consultations with the Chinese government.

China’s Vice President Wang Qishan will deliver an address.

But Mr Smith stressed that “it is a truly global forum that is weighted towards these emerging markets but does have a significant participation from the West”.

Former US officials Hank Paulson, Janet Yellen and Henry Kissinger will join Mr Bloomberg during the two-day event. Christine Lagarde, executive director of the International Monetary Fund, will also attend.

Mr Smith said that while globalisation has benefited many in developed and developing countries in recent decades, it has also hurt people in both.

The spirit of the forum is that both need to come together to tackle inequality.

“Economic inequality, financial inequality — they have these problems in China too, not just the West,” Mr Smith said.

Specific solutions will be worked on during and from 30 days after the event, including those aimed at addressing the imbalance of globalisation and trade, such as reskilling workers and moving refugees into the workforce.

Gender and economic inclusion can be solved with a social contract for businesses and establishing global best practice for gender equality, according to the solutions put forward by the forum.

On the latter, HSBC’s chief executive John Flint is expected to be one of the forum’s champions.

Global principles for applying artificial intelligence and new mobility initiatives in urban areas will also be developed.

Creating a market for recycled plastics and making supply chains “green” are also forum targets, the organisers said.