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6 April 2010

Former Asean chief sees bright outlook for region

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Investors are still willing to invest in South-East Asia due to its big market and strategic geographical location, reported Malaysian daily the StarBiz.

Singapore’s ambassador at large and former Asean secretary-general/Institute of Policy Studies Singapore director Ong Keng Yong said in his presentation paper for the Economic Roundtable – Asean’s Economic Potential and Challenges forum that there would be investors who were prepared to put money in South-East Asia as long as Asean’s plans were implemented.

“It is because Asean is a big market of almost 600 million and Asean’s geography is contiguous to the huge economies of China and India. This geography also covers the vital sea lanes and shipping routes between North-East Asia and South Asia/Middle East/Europe/Africa,” he said.

The Economist Singapore director of South-East Asia corporate network Rajiv Biswas said in his paper that the main risks for Asean this year was a double-dip recession in the global economy which would have a high impact on export-dependent countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

He also highlighted the risk of currency fluctuations in Indonesia and Vietnam as well as commodity price spikes.

Meanwhile, in a panel discussion entitled Business leaders forum – globalising Asean companies and building world-class Asean companies, GE Asean president Stuart Dean said that a possible answer to the question of how to build world-class Asean companies was to form world-class partnerships.

An example is GE Energy’s partnership with Keppel in Singapore to repair high-technology turbine components.

In his paper, Dean advised companies to leverage on smart partnerships where each company’s goals and visions were compatible with each other.

“Asean companies bring more local market knowledge and capabilities that are needed by global companies while global companies can bring new technology and global best practices to help Asean companies leapfrog their competitors,” he said.

Shell Malaysia chairman Mohd Anuar Taib said Asean companies must have a governance structure that had international standards to build world-class Asean companies.

Talent development, inculcating professionalism that promoted quality and reliability, improving through technology and investing in research and development were also key, he added.


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