Former Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Bin Mohamad Saturday encouraged Asia to open up more to the world and search for a win-win result at the opening ceremony of the 2004 annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA).
In his speech on "Asia searching for win-win: An Asia open to the world", Mahathir said that the pressure for Asia to open up is still ongoing. If Asia is to avoid losing out again, Asia must play a role in shaping the character of world trade in the future.
Asians must overcome their differences and come together in the search for a win-win result, he said, adding, "The obstacle that Asia must overcome is the inability to speak with one voice."
If Asian countries speak with some semblance of unity, it will be more effective to develop a win-win formula for Asia, said the former Malaysian prime minister.
New concepts and approaches have been introduced which will result in further opening up of Asian countries to world trade, he said, stressing that poorer countries in Asia must be given a hearing by the more prosperous countries and regions in the continent.
Presently, some developing Asian countries are required by the World Trade Organization to reform not only in terms of international trade practices, but also in practices of the countries involved in world trade, he said.
"But we must take into account the differences in the culture and readiness to absorb and practice new ideas and values by the different countries," he added.
(Xinhua News Agency April 24, 2004)