ASEAN Governments Urged To Provide Structured Regional Channels To Realise AEC

By Bernama

14 May, 2016
As appeared in Bernama

The private sector has urged ASEAN governments to provide well-structured regional channels to provide real sectoral input to policy makers in order to realise the vision of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

The sentiment was strongly reflected by over 300 leading regional corporate leaders and policy makers attending the 3rd Annual ASEAN Business Club (ABC) Forum here Thursday.

“I believe the way forward is to have a structured private sector participation in the discussion and implementation process — if we would be allowed.

“Two of the recommendations we have submitted to ASEAN leaders — the Financial Services and Capital Markets Expert Group (FSCM-EG), and the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Growth Bank — will have crucial impact on trade in ASEAN,” ABC President Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid said in his opening speech.

It was proposed that the expert group for the financial sector be embedded in the ASEAN secretariat and funded by the private sector.

CIMB Group Chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Tun Razak said: “The ASEAN Secretariat needs to be better resourced in order to be fully effective, both financially and in the form of expertise.”

“The private sector must help and its help must be welcomed. Otherwise the integration process will remain fragmented,” said Nazir, who chaired the Financial Services and Capital Markets Roundtable at the forum.

The keynote address was delivered by the Chair of ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting 2015 Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

In his address, Mustapa, who is International Trade and Industry Minister, said: “ASEAN leaders must demonstrate greater political will and move forward with economic integration to balance ASEAN’s potential as a competitive economic region.”

Earlier in his welcome speech, ABC Forum 2015 Chairman U Thura Ko Ko said: “The ASEAN economic region is increasingly recognised as a major global economic and trading powerhouse but more needs to be done to bring the benefits of economic integration to the region’s SMEs and micro enterprises who are so critical to creating opportunities, employment and inclusive prosperity across all our citizens.”

The forum attracted over 50 speakers and leaders from 14 countries to brainstorm ways to chart ASEAN’s future, including Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala and Ministry of International Trade and Industry Secretary-General Datuk Dr Rebecca Sta Maria.

It was also attended by chief executives of over 215 regional corporations including DBS Group, ZICO Holdings Inc, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Park Hotel Group, KBZ Bank, CIMB Group, AirAsia, Johnson & Johnson, AECOM, KPJ Healthcare, Jetstar, AirAsia, China-ASEAN Investment Corporation Fund, Asian Development Bank Institute, Clifford Capital, Tesco Malaysia, UK Trade and Investment, Banpu of Thailand, Serge Pun Group, NEC Corporation, and Zalora Southeast Asia.

The ABC also inked a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) today to jointly launch a research grant programme aimed at providing actionable research on policies and business procedures to expand SME access to finance.

The collaboration, called “Building Linkages: ASEAN SME Finance Research Program”, gained initial support from six participating member banks of the ABC, namely CIMB Bank, Bank Muamalat Malaysia, DBS of Singapore, Bank of Philippine Islands, KBZ Bank of Myanmar, and Citibank of Singapore.