Fears of no-show fade as 800 participants arrive

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 October, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 October, 2001, 12:00am

Fears that hundreds of delegates would stay away from the East Asia Economic Summit after the September 11 attacks had not materialised, organisers said yesterday.

They said attendance at the World Economic Forum's three-day summit starting today would be about 90 per cent of what was originally expected.

Frank Richter, World Economic Forum director for Asia, confirmed there would be about 800 participants, despite travel bans still imposed by some companies and organisations, such as the World Bank. 'The quality of speakers is better than last year,' Mr Richter said.

Communications department director Charles McLean said organisers were pleased at the commitment made by business and government leaders.

'They feel maybe it's a chance to put the pieces back together again for the global economy,' he said. 'There's a sense you can't plan the world's future by e-mail.'

Three weeks ago only 450 to 500 participants had confirmed they would attend. Mr Richter conceded travel bans would reduce the presence of delegates from the US, but he said there would be a significant Canadian presence for the first time.

Among business leaders attending will be Sony Corporation chairman and chief executive officer Nobuyuki Idei, and the president and chief executive of Toshiba, Tadashi Okamura.

Government leaders include Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the finance ministers of Japan, Korea, Pakistan and Cambodia.

Most arrived over the weekend and attended a private reception last night.

Police tightened security measures at the Convention and Exhibition Centre yesterday for the summit. It kicks off this morning with a core plenary session to discuss implications for Asia of the September 11 attacks.

Mr Richter said a session for financial institutions would address the issue of international money laundering.

The heads or vice-heads of the central banks of China, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines will take part in a plenary session on regional monetary co-operation on Wednesday morning.