Are Private Sector and Businesses ASEAN Ready?

Realising the ASEAN Economic Community will require awareness and dialogue between the private sector and governments. What are CEOs concerned about? How are the champions of the AEC engaging with their stakeholders? In this section we ask academics, bureaucrats and business leaders to share their thoughts on how the business community can become more ASEAN ready.

Lois Maximillian

Commisioner of PT. Redwood Indonesia

Intelligence such as the tariff, tax information and investment loans needs to be shared among the ASEAN countries. We [need] to access those information to understand what’s going on in the countries that we are going to invest in. This is very key because sometimes as private [sector] you are going into other countries you have not been to.

Rodolfo Severino JR.

Former secretary General of Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Head of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore

What is needed is for the private sector to regard the region as its market. And if ASEAN is not perceived as being an integrated market, then the private sector will not come to invest. In the end, it is how the private sector looks at economic integration in this region… I think the problem is not so much knowing about this as being interested in it, because if they were interested, they would take the trouble to learn about it. The texts are public, the measures are public. What they need to do is say they are interested in the regional market therefore, you, the government carry out your commitments. But without the pressure from the private sector in favour of integration then it is those who are opposed to greater competition who will prevail as far as government policy is concerned.

Ambassaor Kesavapany

Executive Director, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

In fact I have participated in a couple of meetings which calls for new thinking in the way we do business. What is happening is that while the WTO is finding it difficult to cut across borders, trade is already doing it, banking is already doing it. You have international banks, you have CIMB going into Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and all that without governments coming on board. So all you need to do is make sure there is a levelled playing field we are able to operate.

Grace S. Ugut

Associate Dean Asian Institute of Management

Governments have to do their job which is improving the business climate of the country, which means that they facilitate and build infrastructure, facilitate good business climate which leads to less corruption. But the private sector is the one who will be in the driver’s seat. Private sector collaboration in different ASEAN countries would be much easier.

Michael Enright

Professor at the School of Business , University of Hong Kong

Here are relatively few companies from ASEAN that one would look at as major global players, really making their money by innovating and able to project in highly competitive markets globally. This is not necessarily distinctive to ASEAN. It would be true of Latin America; it would be true of many other areas. But when we think about the corporate contribution to improving competitiveness, improving productivity, improving employment prospects for people within the region, one would tend to think more of companies that are managing for growth, that are innovating, that are competing in highly competitive markets, rather than in some cases companies that seem to be administering franchises rather than innovating and improving.

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