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Sir Terry Leahy, CEO, Tesco Plc

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  July- August 2009


Sir Terry Leahy, CEO, Tesco Plc For Sir Terry, Tesco’s core purpose is ‘to deliver value for customers to earn their lifetime loyalty’. There is no mention of products, no reference to the bottom line or market share, but a clear focus on people - the customers.

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There’s been a lot of talk recently from Southeast Asia’s top leaders on the need to unify the 10-nation region into one economy; and for good reason.

If there’s one thing to be learned from the current global financial crisis, it’s this: Asean’s economic future depends on Asean. Reliance on American consumerism to drive the flow of exports must be a thing of the past. Asean countries must work in conjunction with each other to revitalize the economies of the region.

Once the global financial storm is weathered, foreign investors will start knocking heavily again on the doors of the East looking for development opportunities. In order to compete with India and China for this future development growth, a cohesive plan needs to be put in place that will successfully market the Asean region as an investment destination.

These points have been brought up time and time again by financial analysts and business leaders as key components to Asean’s successful emergence from the current global recession. While government leaders tend to be better listeners than action-makers, it appears Asean officials have taken the suggestions to heart this time around.

In March at the annual Asean Summit, Southeast Asian leaders announced their intentions to form a single market resembling the European Union by 2015. By transforming Asean into a single market, capital, products and skilled labour could move freely throughout the region, thereby expanding trade and investment flows.

Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva spoke of the Asean Economic Community’s (AEC) intentions to become a manufacturing hub for international corporations at the Asean Leadership Forum (ALF) held this June in Bangkok. Key to this goal is the ratification of a regional free trade agreement. Six Asean members  ─ Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand  ─ have agreed to abide to such an agreement starting next year. The region’s four other countries ─ Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam ─ are slated to join by 2015. Under the agreement, duty tax on most imported goods would be eliminated, barring that they are in compliance with agreement stipulations.

Having such an agreement in place would raise regional trade beyond its current $451 billion and foreign investment inflows above $16 billion, said P Ravindran, senior director of Asean Economic Cooperation Division for the Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), according to Bernama.

Operating as one region is vital in successfully rising from the current global financial crisis. But the other major component for Asean to emerge stronger from this recession is to think and market itself like one region. This will enable future investor perceptions of Asean to not get bogged down on specific political or social issues hampering individual member countries.









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