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ASEAN ANALYSIS

Asean Affairs   3 January 2014



Businessmen to Asean: AEC what? Explain further

Koo Jin Shen, The Brunei Times/ANN, Bandar Seri Begawan

Companies surveyed by the Asean Business Advisory Council said they felt that the dissemination of information on the Asean Economic Community Blueprint and its implementation could have been done better.

Respondents from 502 companies expressed “slightly above-average satisfaction” with the bloc’s overall implementation of the blueprint across 16 selected policy areas except one: dissemination of information.

The survey scored responses from a scale of one (low) to five (high). On average, the overall implementation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) was scored at 3.11, according to the Asean BAC.

Respondents were least satisfied with the dissemination of information which scored 2.97 and the consultation with businesses on AEC initiatives at 3.07.

Areas that respondents were most satisfied with was the elimination of tariffs (3.36), followed by the protection of investors and their investments (3.30), promotion of joint investment missions that focus on regional clusters and production networks (3.29) and increasing foreign equity participation in services sectors (3.29).

According to the Asean BAC, small firms were also relatively not as satisfied with measures relating to establishing transparent, consistent and predictable investment rules. Medium-sized firms were also less satisfied with areas relating to enhancing cooperation in regional infrastructure development as well as enhancing the competitiveness and dynamism of Asean small and medium enterprises.

Companies in different countries also expressed dissatisfaction in implementation in different areas.

Brunei and Philippines “expressed less satisfaction” with efforts to enhance national competition to create a fair competition environment.

Indonesia and Myanmar were not as satisfied with how the AEC “enhance cooperation in regional infrastructure development”, Laos and Malaysia were less satisfied with efforts to simplify customs procedures while Thailand and Vietnam were less satisfied with Asean’s efforts in reforming rules of origin.

Companies in Singapore were “less satisfied” with Asean’s efforts relating to the establishment of transparent and predictable investment rules.

“This is consistent with the findings in the Surveys on Asean Community Building Effort 2012 conducted by the Asean Secretariat (2013), where businesses across Asean countries held the view that Asean could do more in organising promotional activities to garner interests and raise awareness through the media,” said the Asean BAC.

“They also felt that the channels being used were not sufficiently effective and instead should be more tailored for the target audience, taking into account language barriers and educational level differences among others,” it said.

In its policy recommendations, the ASsean BAC “strongly urged” the regional grouping to intensify its engagement with the business community, by strengthening the process of information dissemination and consultation with businesses on AEC initiatives, which have been consistently rated by respondents of the survey and its successors as being among the least satisfactory areas of AEC Blueprint implementation.



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