CARI Conversations Series made its debut in Kuala Lumpur

CARI Conversations Series made its debut in Kuala Lumpur dialogue focused on efforts in identifying and bridging the gaps towards building an ASEAN Economic Community

CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI) recently held its first “CARI Conversations” – a series of dialogues between opinion makers, policymakers, government and business leaders. This “CARI Conversations” series is to offer a highly focused forum for dialogue on ASEAN’s economic community-building efforts.

The topic of the first “CARI Conversation” held in Kuala Lumpur was – “What does it take to create a Community?” It featured a panel of highly respected academics and bureaucrats — Datuk Dr. Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, Secretary General, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia; Dr. Donald Emmerson, Director, Southeast Asia Forum, Stanford University; Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, Director, Institute for Policy Studies, National University of Singapore; and Dr. Anthony Milner, Professor of Asian History, Australian National University.

During the dialogue session, the panellists noted that ASEAN is at the halfway mark of its programme to build an economic community by 2015. The panellists assessed the progress made to date, challenges encountered, and ways to bridge the gap between conception and execution of the ASEAN secretariat’s plans.

Sta Maria acknowledged that people think ASEAN is not moving fast enough. She described the vigorous efforts underway at the official level and outlined the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Scorecard which measures how each country is complying with the AEC Blueprint.

She then commented, “While there is political will to see this through….. it now needs to be translated into actions that are measurable, and that’s what we need to do with the Scorecard.”

Meanwhile, Milner added, “Somehow ASEAN is faced with a challenge here. How do you reach out to the business community when the answer goes beyond economics?”

Milner also discussed history of the notion of sovereignty in Southeast Asia.

In that respect, Ong agreed with Milner, by saying, “While the issue at hand is an economic community, the solution involves more than economics. We also need to address cultural identities.”

Emmerson suggested that the solution requires a willingness to avoid defining a community, as well as a willingness to realise that a perfect community is an ideal. He said, “It is an endless process, and we can only work towards making significant progress.”

Emmerson questioned why there were not some quick wins such as a single sim card across ASEAN.

The discussion ended with a promise for future dialogues, as CARI continues to engage and put more focus on the private sector’s participation in building an ASEAN economic community.

About CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI)

CARI pursues research and promotes thought leadership in support of an ASEAN Community. It seeks pragmatic solutions and policy recommendations to address challenges in ASEAN integration and connectivity.

CIMB Group is Malaysia’s second largest financial services provider and one of Southeast Asia’s leading universal banking groups. It offers consumer banking, investment banking, Islamic banking, asset management and insurance products and services. Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, its key operations are located in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand. The Group also has presence in Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam. Beyond ASEAN, the Group has offices in Hong Kong, Bahrain, London and New York, as well as a 19.99% stake in Bank of Yingkou, China.

CIMB Group operates its business through three main brand entities, CIMB Bank, CIMB Investment Bank and CIMB Islamic. CIMB Group is also the majority shareholder of Bank CIMB Niaga in Indonesia, and the single largest shareholder of CIMB Thai in Thailand.

CIMB Group is listed on Bursa Malaysia via CIMB Group Holdings Berhad (formerly known as Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings Bhd). It has a market capitalisation of approximately RM60.9 billion as at 31 March 2011. The Group has over 38,000 employees located in 13 countries.



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