Majority Want Greater Asian Co-operation: WEF Survey

New Delhi, June 19: | Updated: Jun 20 2003, 05:30am hrs
An overwhelming majority of the participants at the new Asian leaders retreat in Seoul want greater economic cooperation within the Asian countries, says a web-based survey conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF). While 37 per cent of those interviewed viewed Asean+4 (including China, Japan, South Korea and India) as the most desirable model of economic integration, about 27 per cent preferred Asean+3.

While over 51 per cent of the respondents from India, South-East Asia, China, South Korea and Japan said the level of economic cooperation in Asia was adequate, but more is desirable, over 37 per cent felt that too little cooperation existed now, and only 8.9 per cent said the current level of cooperation was just right.

About the obstacles to reaching a high level of economic cooperation, the survey has identified national interests (46 per cent) as being the primary obstacle, well ahead of the historical, social or cultural differences or income disparities.

While 44 per cent found corruptions as the greatest social challenge facing the continent, 39 per cent cited poverty as the greatest challenge, and 37.5 per cent felt that the yawning income gaps was the problem. u

Notably, the respondents in the 30s differed from the peers in the 40s age bracket. While the younger group cited income gaps as the first problem (44 per cent) and corruption second (40 per cent), those in their 40s cited corruption as the first issue (48 per cent) and income gaps as the second issue (32 per cent).

Similar differences were observed in identifying the roles of companies in the society too. While 56 per cent of those in their 30s said companies primary role in society should be to participate in social development, only 35 per cent of those in their 40s agreed with this view. The older set felt that companies should focus on making money and paying taxes.

The new Asian leaders are expected to address these and other issues during the retreat in Seoul between June 19-20. The WEFs NAL are Asias new generation of young change-makers in business, government, civil society and other sectors. Over 60 NALs will gather in the South Korean capital to collectively review their blueprints for a new Asia. They will also chart the next steps for taking these blueprints, which are visions of change for China, India, South Korea, Japan and South-East Asia, to the next stage of development and implementation.