Kuala Lumpur: The 25th Association of South East Asian Nation (ASEAN) World Economic Forum (WEF) began in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
"We must concentrate on where we are now and provide tangible benefits to our people so we build the ASEAN community both in the minds and hearts of our people and also practical ways," said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in his speech at the opening plenary for the session 'Shaping the ASEAN Agenda for Inclusion and Growth'.
The two-day forum, which is co-chaired by academics, advocates including Amnesty International's Secretary General Salil Shetty, and includes university youth leaders, aims to focus on job creation to address unemployment in the ASEAN subregion.
With the rise of technology and automated machines pushing out low-skilled labour, a phenomenon the WEF has termed the 'Fourth Industrial Revolution', combining national markets to influence world trade is key for growth.
"If ASEAN were a single country it would be the seventh-largest economy in the world," said the WEF, touting the combined GDP of $2.5 trillion in 2015 and predicting the rise of the 'economic powerhouse' to the fourth largest export region globally by 2050.