Bloomberg Business Summit at APEC:
November 16, 2022
APEC economies have a golden opportunity to change course and reset after a tumultuous three years. Many were hit hard. How they bounce back will shape the world. A bright, common future depends more than ever on interconnectedness, which will bring opportunities and challenges. Tourism and aviation are finally seeing the green shoots of recovery.
Against the backdrop of the first in-person APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in three years, the Bloomberg Business Summit in Bangkok brought together leaders from all sectors to discuss using the momentum built during the pandemic to push responsible, inclusive and sustainable growth.
Karan Bhatia, Vice President, Government Affairs and Public Policy, Google
Narisa Chauvidul-Aw, CEO, Founder, KogoPay
Piti Disyatat, Assistant Governor, Monetary Policy Group, Bank of Thailand
Alexander Feldman, President, Boeing Southeast Asia
Chayotid Kridakon, Thai Trade Representative; Advisor to the Prime Minister of Thailand
Eteri Kvintradze, Director, Capacity Development Office in Thailand, IMF
Harald Link, Chairman of B.Grimm; President of B.Grimm Power Public Co., Ltd.
Omri Morgenshtern, CEO, Agoda
Pakorn Peetathawatchai, President, The Stock Exchange of Thailand
Parut Penpayap, Project Director, MQDC Metaverse
Amb. Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Special Advisor of Eastern Economic Corridor; Former Permanent Secretary of The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand
Poramaporn Prasarttong-osoth, M.D., President, Bangkok Dusit Medical Services PCL
Dillip Rajakarier, CEO, Minor Hotels; Group CEO, Minor International
Chartsiri Sophonpanich, President of Bangkok Bank
Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Minister of Finance, The Kingdom of Thailand
Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Chairperson of Toshiba Thailand Co Ltd; Chairperson of Kasikorn Bank; Former Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand
- K. Oanh Ha, Global Business Senior Reporter, Bloomberg
- Mallika Kapur, Deputy Global Editor, Bloomberg Live
- Isabel Reynolds, Government Reporter, Bloomberg
- Jeanette Rodrigues, Managing Editor for South Asia, Bloomberg
- Yazhou Sun, Editor, Bloomberg Live
Eteri Kvintradze, Director, Capacity Development Office in Thailand, IMF highlighted some of the fund’s predictions that will impact Southeast Asia, including economic slowing for the U.S. and China. Growth rate for China will drop from 8.1% to about 3.3% this year, with a 5% rate forecast over the next five years. “That will have significant implications globally, and also in the region.” The region became more connected for trade in the past decade, with half of Asian trade now intraregional, and China at the center of trade linkages.
Reflecting on the fallout of nine months of war in Ukraine, Amb. Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Special Advisor of Eastern Economic Corridor; Former Permanent Secretary of The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, said the impacts are felt there. “But for me, being here in the region, I think the most important implication is that we cannot take peace for granted. Peace and stability are very fragile, and peace and stability are what we need most right now.”
When he joined the ministry 40 years ago, things were much simpler, “and it was clear who our friends were.” Yet, Thailand was facing a crisis of survival. “In those days, we still had the domino theory. Indochina fell to communism. People thought the next country to fall would be Thailand. “What we needed to do was very clear. But here, the nature of the threat has changed. Diplomacy has to be much more versatile.”
Bloomberg Business Summit at APEC
Thailand: The Way Forward
In an opening address, Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Minister of Finance, The Kingdom of Thailand, spoke to the post-pandemic world, the benefits of the digital interconnection transformation and new challenges. He called on all public and private entities to “pledge resources for the greater, global common good of a green and sustainable future.”
In a subsequent conversation about Thailand’s economy, he described a transition from government stimulus support to careful control of interest rates as the country gets back to work. “Now that the restrictions are gone, we need to let the monetary policy work.” On the potential for a deep, global recession, “Of course we worry, but our policies are reversing the global trend.” Tourism and exports are performing better than before the pandemic, and will drive the economy in the coming year.
Fireside Chat on Monetary Policy
Piti Disyatat, Assistant Governor, Monetary Policy Group, Bank of Thailand spoke of an “economic takeoff” that differs from soft-landing ambitions around the world. While the world faces inflation, mostly from the energy price shock, “at the same time, the initial conditions, and the starting points of countries are not the same.” Tourism is pacing Thailand’s recovery. The second quarter of 2022 brought only two million of the typical 40 million visitors. It’s currently at nine million. “The trajectory is only starting to recover. We’re not going to reach the peak GDP level until around early next year.”
Looking Ahead– The View From Asia
Pakorn Peetathawatchai, President, The Stock Exchange of Thailand said recovery has not been consistent across all sectors. Exports, technology and agriculture surged back, while others, including travel, hospitality and healthcare struggle. “Even though we only have half of our industry recovered, you will find that the earnings already surpassed their total earnings before covid.” While recovery could be better, those earnings explain the renewed equity inflows.
Regionalization is key, according to Chartsiri Sophonpanich, President, Bangkok Bank. Regulations and capital market instruments are needed or already in place that make Thailand a funding center for countries and companies across the region The bank’s reach extends across 30 economies, in Asia, London and New York, and with the 2020 acquisition of Permata Bank in Indonesia. “Vietnam also has a very strong growth rate, that in the first nine months of this year grew over 8.8%, and the export sector is already at about $280 billion U.S.”
B.Grimm Sponsor Spotlight: Doing Business with Compassion – Save the Tigers
Despite the notion that “we’re in it for the money,” Harald Link, Chairman of B.Grimm; President of B.Grimm Power Public Co., Ltd. said, “We always want to do things that are valuable to society.” That includes the ecosystem and “connecting with wildlife that sustains us,” He noted how the landscape at Yellowstone National Park has improved when a predator at the top of the food chain – the wolf – were reintroduced, and asked for support for the endangered tigers, that live in only five countries now. “As long as we save the tiger, the ecosystem will still be in order.”
Covid Recovery 3.0: Healthcare Infrastructure
Poramaporn Prasarttong-osoth, M.D., President, Bangkok Dusit Medical Services PCL runs the country’s largest private healthcare system and spoke about their pandemic response and what was learned about their role in the system. Much had to do with transforming the way they treat non-covid patients, and doubling up on pre-existing, mostly unused digital hospital and government capabilities to create a secure, stable telemedicine system. Patients needed only to be able to connect to social media. “It’s not just us. It’s the whole of Thailand working together.”
MQDC Sponsor Spotlight: Metaverse as the New Digital Transformation
While experts predict the economy in the metaverse could exceed that in the real world, it should not be thought of as competition, but how it can apply across industries, said Parut Penpayap, Project Director, MQDC Metaverse. “We should think about the correct synergy. Not to decouple between the two.” Bridging that gap will take a collaboration of companies providing infrastructure layers of software, devices, payment systems, content creation and experience design.
A Woman’s Workplace
Narisa Chauvidul-Aw, CEO, Founder, KogoPay said what women coming back to work are demanding now is more flexible hours and support. Using herself as an example; being able to travel for work requires her husband working from home, family support and company policies. Support also comes by way of training, including in industries that are recovering, like tourism and aviation. “There are a lot more women working there, and we have to support them.”
Key to employee retention is understanding your people, said Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Chairperson of Toshiba Thailand Co Ltd; Chairperson of Kasikorn Bank; Former Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand. “At the same time, it doesn’t mean this is a new normal. I believe that people will constantly change. Maybe they are at the stage where they want their life to be, but in the next one or two years, things will change again.” The bank provides several ways of working, and understands people have different priorities.
Tourism in a Post-Pandemic World
The current status of the Asian travel sector is one of cautious optimism, according to Omri Morgenshtern, CEO, Agoda. “It’s not like in Europe and the U.S., where covid equals the flu.” In cities across Asia, he estimated at least 90% of people are still wearing masks. On an audience poll about travel priority, where a large majority selected ‘Reasonable pricing,’ he said he was not surprised, and that it’s about more than inflationary pressure and what airlines are offering. Survey 10 Agoda engineers about what’s most important for the customer, “and 10 out of 10 will tell you, price.”
Dillip Rajakarier, CEO, Minor Hotels; Group CEO, Minor International talked about having to almost restructure the business after taking such a big covid hit, but doing it in a discreet way. “The main thing was to make sure that the feel and the touchpoints on the guest experience was never compromised.” But everything changed, and new concepts came into play, such as generational, bleisure and luxury travel. “For us, luxury is not about the glamor, it’s all about the experience, which is a storytelling experience.”
APEC Economies’ Aviation Outlook
Airline travel in Southeast Asia is booming, up to a current 70% of pre-pandemic levels, said Alexander Feldman, President, Boeing Southeast Asia. Demand is there and destination countries are open, but the challenges go beyond staffing shortages. It takes time to re-commission mothballed planes. “Aircraft are not meant to sit for any amount of time, nevermind years.” Demographics support his optimism for the future. The 380 million people in ASEAN average just over 30 years old. That translates to a population of young people that’s larger than the entire U.S.
Tech for All
On leveraging technology for recovery, Karan Bhatia, Vice President, Government Affairs and Public Policy, Google, said the dramatic increase in digital tech users has not ended with the pandemic. “What we’re seeing instead is a further evolution of the technology.” Parts of the region are still being connected, and have growing numbers of users. “The base of the pyramid is now leaning into the internet, and we think that’s a fantastic thing. The enhanced opportunity, and the inclusiveness that’s generating in the Southeast Asian economy is terrific.”
Thailand: A Vision for the Future
Chayotid Kridakon, Thai Trade Representative; Advisor to the Prime Minister of Thailand described a philosophy around taking advantage of tech manufacturers’ willingness to make global moves. “It’s about how you embrace that opportunity. It’s not just about clean water and stable electricity for the shipping industry, but also the whole, new paradigm of how do you produce the chip without any carbon footprint. I think that will be the key to going forward.” Thailand has been adamant about taking action on global warming.
This Bloomberg Business Summit is Proudly Sponsored By