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New Year’s Party – 2017 Outlook

07 Feb New Year’s Party – 2017 Outlook

What will 2017 bring for the governments, businesses, and citizens of South-east Asia? We held our New Year’s Party on Tuesday 7 Feb, focusing on what lies ahead for the region in the Year of the Rooster, featuring views from Mr Manu Bhaskaran, Founding Director and Chief Executive Officer, Centennial Asia Advisors and Associate Professor Simon Tay, Chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.

More photos from the event are available on our Facebook page.

Event Highlights

“There’s actually a lot to be positive about in the world economy,” said Mr. Bhaskaran. “Global growth is picking up. It’s cyclical pick up, but I think it’s an accelerating pick up, and for Singapore as a highly open economy, it’s very positive.”


Global shocks and the need for Asian resilience

However, global political shocks could cause problems for Asian economies. In particular, there is a great deal of uncertainty over United States policy under President Donald Trump. Mr Bhaskaran does not think Trump will launch a broad attack on global trade arrangements. The Trump administration is more likely to implement sector-specific and country-specific trade policies. But beyond trade, financial turbulence is also a concern.

“The collorary of a faster than expected recovery in the United States must be a faster than expected tightening of US market policy. I don’t think financial markets have priced that in. And when they start pricing that in, then we will see again an abrupt exodus of capital, out of bonds and equities and other financial instruments in emerging economies, leading to currency volatility and other challenges,” said Mr. Bhaskaran.

“There could be turbulance or chaos, leading to a lack of cohesion and the ability of America to support the global system,” said Prof Tay.

What does this mean for Asia?

The Trump administration has made it clear that it does not favour multilateral trade deals, but wants to negotiate new agreements on a bilateral basis. But with Mr Trump promising to put the US first, there are concerns that future trade deals may not be so favourable to Asian countries. “His dealmaking could come to the fore, as a tough negotiator – not necessarily fair, as America has so much leverage,” said Prof Tay. In this context, Mr Trump’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later this week might be indicative of how the US will relate to other countries.


“We tend to oscillate. When America is there, as it was in the early Clinton administration and then later with Obama, we tend to talk about an Asia-Pacific region that brings America in,” said Prof Tay. “If Trump says ‘no’ to various things with Asia, then Asia needs growth, Asia needs assurance, what do we do?”

China has positioned itself as the new champion of globalisation and economic integration, but Prof Tay noted that it may be better to see the situation as Asia being caught between two hegemonic powers, China and the US, both of whom are seeking to defend their own interests.

Original Event Synopsis:

Last year, markets were shaken by the unexpected, from Brexit to Donald Trump’s election win. What do Asian countries and businesses need to look out for in 2017?  Concern is rising over the future direction of the United States and the implications for Asia. In a world without the TPP, China is now positioning itself as a champion of globalisation and economic integration, but small and medium-sized Asian states face a challenge in ensuring their interests are equally represented. The US has also demonstrated that domestic politics can have a massive impact on a nation’s stability and the international economy, which might have uncomfortable ramifications for Asian countries that are facing their own elections.

This evening’s talk features views from Mr. Manu Bhaskaran, Director of Centennial Group; Chief Executive, Centennial Asia Advisors and Assoc. Prof. Simon Tay, Chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.

Event Details

Date: Tuesday, 7th February 2017

Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm (Registration & Tea Reception at 6pm; Talk begins at 6:45pm)

Venue: Singapore Institute of International Affairs
60A Orchard Road #04-03 (Level 4M) Tower 1
The Atrium @Orchard, International Involvement Hub
Singapore 238890

*Event is by invitation only.

About the Speakers

Mr. Manu Bhaskaran
Director of Centennial Group; Chief Executive, Centennial Asia Advisors

Manu Bhaskaran is Director of Centennial Group International and the Founding Director and Chief Executive Officer of Centennial Asia Advisors. Mr. Bhaskaran has more than 30 years of expertise in economic and political risk assessment and forecasting in Asia. Before joining the Centennial Group, he was Chief Economist for Asia of a leading international investment bank and managed its Singapore-based economic advisory group. Mr. Bhaskaran is a well-regarded commentator on Asian financial and economic affairs, and has regular columns in business weeklies such as the Edge in Singapore/Malaysia. He serves as Member of the Regional Advisory Board for Asia of the International Monetary Fund; Senior Adjunct Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies; Council Member of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs; and Vice-President of the Economics Society of Singapore. Mr. Bhaskaran has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Cambridge University. He has also qualified as a Chartered Financial Analyst. He is based in Singapore.

Assoc. Prof. Simon Tay
Chairman, Singapore Institute of International Affairs

Professor Simon Tay is a public intellectual as well as an advisor to major corporations and policy-makers. He is Chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, the country’s oldest think tank and founding member of the ASEAN network of think-tanks. An independent, civic institution, the SIIA is ranked by an international survey a leading think tank in Asia, and advised the Myanmar government on its ASEAN chairmanship in 2014. He is concurrently a tenured Associate Professor, teaching international law at the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law.

Prof Tay is also Senior Consultant at WongPartnership, a leading Asian law firm of some 300 lawyers and with offices in Singapore, China and the Middle East. He serves as independent director on boards for global companies, the Mitsubishi United Financial Group of Japan (global advisory board), the LGT Private Bank, and Eurex Asia (a subsidiary of the Deutsche Bourse) and two leading Singaporean companies, the Far East Organization and Hyflux Ltd. For Hyflux, publicly listed on the SGX, he also serves as a member of its investment and risk committees.