Inflation, deglobalisation on global leaders' minds at Forbes CEO conference in S'pore

The Forbes Global CEO Conference will spotlight topics such as technology, innovation and sustainability. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Forces shaking up the global economy - such as inflation and deglobalisation - are among the hot issues taking centre stage at the Forbes Global CEO Conference that has drawn about 400 business leaders worldwide here.

Held at The Ritz-Carlton, the two-day event - which features a conversation with Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong - will also shine the spotlight on topics such as technology, innovation and sustainability.

On Monday, inflation was a key topic raised, with business leaders and economists agreeing that higher consumer prices are likely to be the new normal.

Chief executive and co-founder of investment firm Gateway Partners V. Shankar said: "Inflation is here to stay, come hell or high water... because there are some structural, intractable problems that are going to lead to higher prices."

The rapid move towards decarbonisation will result in more demand for new technologies, such as in renewable energy.

In the short term, supply-side shocks and the new technologies being relatively more expensive will also cause the prices of greener goods to rise, he added.

Deglobalisation will also have an impact on cost and productivity for businesses. For example, instead of opting for the most efficient and cheapest place to produce their goods, businesses will now have to consider geopolitical tensions as well.

The spat between China and the United States, for example, has made investors wary and lowered confidence in the two economies.

"For those of us in Asia and in other countries trying to be neutral... I'm just having a hard time trying to figure out where I'm going to be getting pressure from... to be caught in this situation, I think it's very uncomfortable," said Banyan Tree Holdings executive chairman Ho Kwon Ping.

Mr Ng Kok Song, the founding chairman of Avanda Investment Management, said that given the uncertain economic climate, the key for investors is to be reasonably diversified.

Investors should not get carried away with specific developments and should be aware that all the major economies have their own challenges to tackle, added Mr Ng, who was speaking on a panel about investing.

Other issues, such as entrepreneurship and sustainability, will get an airing on Tuesday.

Mr Gautam Adani, the chairman of India's largest integrated infrastructure group Adani Group, will also deliver a keynote address.

Now in its 20th year, the annual Forbes Global CEO Conference is making a comeback after two years.

Its 2020 and 2021 editions were replaced by the Forbes Asia CEO webinar because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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