South and East Asian nations have a huge potential to strengthen their ties through shared values.

Key among these values are the strong links each country has with their traditional and culture-based industries. It is unfortunate, however, that the inherent innovation available within the creative industries sector in the region has not been fully tapped. In close cooperation, each country has an enormous amount to share with the other; each country can learn from the other.

We as a region need to define our shared values. Peace, tolerance, cultural understanding and social progress are parts of the foundation to build on. And to that I would add trade. Traditionally, trade has been the route to build shared values. But huge trade imbalances have encouraged exploitation and have taken away from the positive side of trade. If balance is maintained, trade may still be the best way to bind the region.

In East Asia, we should look to the future rather than to the past. We are a young region, we are tech savvy and, we have the huge collective force of information via the Internet. We should brainstorm with our young population and extract the most significant attributes of each country and create binding brands for the future which future generations can share, talk and build around.

Within the region, we share half of the world’s consumers. I am sure we hold more than half of the world’s creative industrial workforce too. This includes our films, our popular culture, our food, our fashion and our artisans producing wonderful objects that each of us would love to buy from the other. Design, modernization, innovation and sustainability play a huge role in this. As such, we should debate shared platforms to achieve synergy and have maximum impact on social progress so all can benefit – producer communities and our growing population of consumers.

 

 

Author: Neelam Chhiber, Managing Director, Industree/Mother Earth, India; Social Entrepreneur of the Year, India, 2011

Industree prepares low-income artisans to become owners and entrepreneurs in grassroots community enterprises, linking them with market access to India’s booming retail sector.