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Challenges seen in ASEAN integration

Posted on September 11, 2013

MUCH STILL has to be done with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) planned integration drawing nearer, speakers at yesterday’s 11th MAP International CEO Conference noted.

ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh, in his keynote speech, emphasized the role of the private sector in the realization of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) -- a single market and production base with the free movement of goods, services, labor and capital.

“With ASEAN’s immense growth potentials, a company preparing for 2015 should consider increasing its investments. It should no longer limit its sights on the investment opportunities in its own home country but also explore the possibilities in the other member states,” he said.

For Asian Development Bank economist Jayant Menon, the challenge “is not getting to 2015 but what happens after 2015”.

“That is implementing what has been agreed upon. It is a different thing when you get home ... A lot of it depends on goodwill,” he noted.

Thierry Apoteker, CEO of TAC Applied Economic and Financial Research, said another challenge was that Southeast Asia remained a relatively small market.

“It (ASEAN) still lacks stronger institutional organization and is still too dependent on economies and not enough on its own demand and production structure,” he claimed.

At the sidelines of the event, Mr. Menon and Management Association of the Philippines President Melito S. Salazar, Jr. said the AEC represented both threat and opportunity.

“The challenges will be on domestic industries to increase their productivity as competition from imports also increase,” Mr. Menon said.

Mr. Salazar echoed this, adding that to adjust, “Businesses can band together ... combine resources, whether in design, packaging, production, and technology.”