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eA 9th Edition

Seminar in Switzerland – Recap Day 1

Delegation Blogpost – Seminar Recap #1

On February 12th, 2024, our Seminar in Switzerland commenced—a much-anticipated week brimming with captivating guest speakers, enlightening workshops, and insightful business visits. Empowering our student delegation, we entrusted them with the task of reflecting on this enriching experience by inviting them to share their perspectives on select program highlights.

With great joy, we are thrilled to present the blog posts crafted by our esteemed student delegation.

Unlocking Insights into Vietnam: Bridging Tradition and Growth

Thanks to Ms. Le Thu Thuy, we received a lot of interesting insights of Vietnam’s unique culture and business landscape. Vietnam, with its rich cultural heritage offers a captivating blend of tradition and modernity. From the bustling street markets which awaken at 5.30am, to its vibrant business landscape, the country presents a dynamic tapestry of resilience, culinary delights, and economic opportunities.

Key Takeaways and Learnings

Cultural Aspects: Vietnam’s biggest cities are the northern capital Hanoi, and the southern city Ho Chi Minh, which was renamed from “Saigon” to the former president’s name in 1976. The Lotus flower, Vietnam’s national symbol, embodies the nation’s resilience and ability to overcome challenges. This spirit is reflected in everyday life and business efforts, highlighting the importance of persistency and adaptability. A fun fact is, that when meeting Vietnamese, they might directly ask for one’s age and marital status, which indicates their open-mindedness.

Economic Landscape: Vietnam’s economy is characterized by its strong manufacturing sector, fueled by domestic demand and diverse export markets, for example of cashew nuts and coffee. Furthermore, strategic investments in infrastructure and free trade agreements contribute to the country’s growth and attractiveness to foreign investors.

Culinary Diversity: Vietnamese cuisine offers a delightful fusion of flavors and textures, reflecting the country’s cultural diversity and creativity. Vietnam’s dynamic evolution is reflected from its traditional meals like Banh Mi to beverages that connect to business like Cà Phê Trung, a coffee with egg which is often consumed during business meetings.

Links to Robotics, Digitalization, and Circular Economy

Vietnam’s growing manufacturing sector offers opportunities for the integration of robotics and automation technologies to enhance productivity and efficiency. Simultaneously, the widespread adoption of digital technologies across various industries, ranging from e-commerce to fintech, is revolutionizing Vietnam’s economic landscape. This digital transformation not only promotes innovation but also fuels economic development and fosters enhanced connectivity within the nation. While Vietnam recognizes the importance of sustainability by signing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the country is still in the beginning of working towards sustainability, which stems from its continuously growing economy.

Conclusion

Vietnam’s journey of tradition and growth is marked by resilience, innovation, and cultural richness. From the symbolic significance of the Lotus flower to the vibrant business landscape and culinary diversity, the country offers a compelling narrative of opportunity and exploration. As Vietnam embraces digitalization, sustainability, and regional cooperation, the potential for growth and collaboration is vast. Vietnam’s combination of tradition and progress sets the stage for ongoing success and prosperity globally.

Authors: Janine Gilgen, Luca Meier

The Land of Smiles: Insights into Thailand

The Monday afternoon began with an exciting immersion into Thailand. Thailand is also known as the “land of smiles” and the friendly atmosphere was perfectly embodied by our guest speaker, Dr. Fah Yantarasri, who brought some of Thailand’s vibrant, welcoming spirit into our classroom. She is the President of the Thai Students Association in Switzerland and with her diverse experiences of growing up in Thailand and living in the United States, Japan and Switzerland, she was the perfect guest speaker to bring Thailand closer to us.

Key Learnings

We began our exploration by immersing ourselves in the diverse tapestry of Thai culture. One of the outstanding features we discovered was the genuine warmth and hospitality of the Thai people. Tolerance is deeply ingrained in their society and their friendly demeanour is evident in their ever-present smiles. We also observed the importance of hierarchy in Thai society, where respect is highly valued, and conflicts are often approached with diplomacy rather than confrontation. Constructive criticism is handled delicately, with an emphasis on maintaining positivity and harmony in interactions. Overall, our encounter with Thai culture left us with a deep appreciation for its inclusive and uplifting spirit. It was further mentioned that the relationship between the Thai people and their king, currently King Maha Vajiralongkorn, is deeply rooted in respect and reverence. The monarchy holds a special place in Thai society, with the king traditionally seen as a unifying figure and symbol of national identity. Throughout history, Thai monarchs have been highly revered, and their words and actions carry considerable weight in shaping the country’s cultural and political landscape. Tourists visiting Thailand should always show respect for the King and observe local customs and protocols when discussing or interacting with the monarchy.

After learning about the culture we got some information about the relationship between Thailand and Switzerland. Thailand and Switzerland enjoy a strong relationship characterised by trade, cultural exchange and diplomatic cooperation. Switzerland is also a popular destination for Thai students and tourists. Overall, the relationship is characterised by mutual respect and cooperation in various fields.

Link to the Economy

We also took a short dive into Thailand’s economy which is a dynamic mix of manufacturing, tourism and agriculture. With its strategic location in Southeast Asia, Thailand plays a major player in global trade, exporting electronics, automobiles and agricultural products. The tourism sector, with its stunning beaches and cultural attractions, is a major contributor to the country’s GDP and provides employment for millions of Thais. The economy of Thailand has been steadily growing and reached a GDP of 505.09 billion USD in 2021, making it the second largest economy in the ASEAN region.

Conclusion

In conclusion, guided by Dr. Fah Yantarasri’s insightful reflections, our immersion in Thailand’s vibrant culture and dynamic economy left us with a deep appreciation for its warmth, tradition, and global relevance. It also sparked a great deal of excitement to explore this country even more when we are traveling there.

Authors: Natalie Rytz & Milena Zemp

Categories
eA 9th Edition

Beyond Growth: Embracing Digitalization and Robotics in Circular Economy 

Based on last year’s topics of ‘Automation’ and ‘Renewable Energy’ and how businesses in Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam tackle their sustainability issues through these technologies, our 9th edition of exploreASEAN will take things a step further to uncover how new possibilities – enabled by emerging technologies, such as the popularity gaining Artificial Intelligence (AI) – can help businesses champion circular economy principles in Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. 

Beyond Growth: Embracing Digitalization and Robotics in Circular Economy 

ASEANs Framework for Circular Economy 

The ASEAN Economic Community recognizes the inefficiencies of the current linear economic model, characterized by the “take, make, dispose” approach, leading to a resource shortage and environmental challenges. This approach threatens ASEAN’s economic resilience through resource depletion, unsustainable raw material consumption patterns, value chain inefficiencies, and climate change. To address these challenges, ASEAN adopted the Framework for Circular Economy in late 2021. This framework prioritizes creating an economy that is restorative, regenerative, and efficient in using materials and energy to retain their value. While existing Circular Economy initiatives in ASEAN have largely focused on environmental aspects, the framework outlines a long-term vision to build on existing strengths. The three strategic goals defined are “Resilient Economy”, “Resource Efficiency”, and “Sustainable Growth”. Key strategic priorities include “Standard Harmonization and Mutual Recognition”, “Trade Openness and Trade Facilitation”, “Innovation, Digitalization, and Emerging Technologies”, “Sustainable Finance and Innovative Investments”, and “Efficient Use of Energy and Other Resources”. 

Innovation Opportunities of Digitalization and AI in ASEAN 

Over the past two years, AI technologies like ChatGPT have become commonplace. For businesses, adopting advanced technologies such as AI and robotics is crucial for enhancing productivity, streamlining processes, and improving efficiency. According to TECHWIRE ASIA, businesses often face challenges in fully utilizing data. Recent technological progress has given rise to smart factories where real-time data analysis and predictive analytics empower manufacturers to make data-driven decisions. This enables them to identify bottlenecks, optimize supply chains, reduce human errors, increase labor productivity by up to 30%, and improve forecast accuracy by up to 85%, as reported by McKinsey. Digitalization and robotics initiatives further address sustainability concerns by promoting green manufacturing processes, including energy-efficient methods, eco-friendly materials, and carbon footprint reduction through the breakdown of both external and internal process silos. 

Why Businesses Move to the ASEAN Region 

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation in the ASEAN region, prompting member states to enhance knowledge sharing and invest in digital initiatives. They established an ASEAN digital community across the three pillars of sustainability: People, Planet, and Profit. This transformation has made the ASEAN region highly attractive for businesses and investments. The IMF forecasts that by 2027, ASEAN’s economy will be the world’s fourth-largest, with the region’s digital economy projected to exceed a value of $1 trillion by 2030. In 2022, the region witnessed the creation of 25 new unicorns (companies valued at over $1 billion). 

Recent developments in ASEAN countries can be exemplified by their increasing significance in semiconductor production and various investments in this area. In this regard, a noteworthy event was the recent visit of U.S. President Joe Biden to Vietnam on September 10th. This visit resulted in the introduction of semiconductor workforce development initiatives, supported by an initial seed funding of $2 million from the U.S. government, along with significant investment deals in the billions to boost investments in Vietnam. Another key player in the world of semiconductors is Singapore, renowned for its production of specialty chips. This niche industry will continue to grow in importance, particularly due to advancements in 5G, the automotive sector, and the Internet of Things. In fact, the city’s semiconductor output currently constitutes 11% of the entire global market, as reported by EDB Singapore. Notably, numerous countries, including the United States, Japan, and the European Union (EU), are offering billions in chip subventions. Recently, the U.S. company GlobalFoundries announced a $4 billion expansion of its existing microchip plant in Singapore. This underscores the growing importance of the semiconductor industry in the ASEAN region and its contribution to global technological advancements. 

In both our Seminar in Switzerland and our On-Site Seminar in Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore, we will delve into how companies integrate these digital transformation initiatives along their value chain to champion circular economy practices. To stay updated with our latest information, visit our website

With its multifaceted appeal and investments in green innovation, ASEAN has emerged as one of the most attractive regions for businesses expanding abroad. Would you like to be part of our journey? Apply to join our Delegation today! For more information, visit our Social Media Channels: LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.

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Your 2023/24 exploreASEAN Team