BOAO Forum: Key themes to watch from the “Asian Davos”

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Matt Weller
By :  ,  Head of Market Research

After a one-year hiatus for the COVID-19 pandemic, the BOAO Forum for Asia is scheduled to make its return next week, April 18-21.

For those who aren’t familiar, this regional conference is modeled after the World Economic Forum in Davos and is focused on promoting regional economic integration and bringing Asian countries even closer to their development goals. This year’s theme is "A World in Change: Join Hands to Strengthen Global Governance and Advance Belt and Road Cooperation" in reference to China’s global infrastructure development strategy spanning nearly 70 countries. It will be the largest on-site international forum since the outbreak of the pandemic, with approximately 2,000 participants including two top Chinese state leaders.

BOAO Forum: Key themes

Much like the annual Davos summit, the BOAO Forum provides an opportunity for high-level politicians to gather, discuss ideas, and issue optimistic joint statements, but there’s unlikely to be any immediately actionable developments for investors. In other words, it’s likely the ultimate outcome of the meeting will be a statement that mirrors the pre-event promotion couched with phrases like “practicing multilateralism with a developmental perspective and strengthening global governance,” likely without any immediate policy changes; nonetheless the event can still provide insights on the longer-term priorities of key APAC countries.

In terms of the noteworthy themes, the two most important ones to watch will be the discussion around carbon neutrality and the COVID-19 vaccine. Developing Asia is an area of the world that contributes to global warming at an above-average rate, so investors will be keen to get more details on how the region plans to mitigate the environmental impact of its rapid industrialization. Meanwhile, with Chinese-developed vaccines showing substantially less efficacy against COVID-19 than their Western counterparts, it will be worth watching how high-level policymakers plan to protect their populations and promote a “return to normal” over the rest of the year.

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