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Bestworld International Ltd

Dr. Dora Hoan

Dr. Dora Hoan is GROUP CEO of  Bestworld International Ltd, one of the top-performing SMEs  in the Asia Pacific region. She is a highly experienced direct selling expert and enjoys wide reputation as one of Singapore’s top female entrepreneurs.

Over the years, her visionary thinking and innovative insights have led her to create her own unique philosophy of the direct selling system and forge a distinct entrepreneurial style. Dr. Hoan’s entrepreneurial spirit and dynamic leadership have not only nurtured tens of thousands of direct sellers, but have also changed the lives of people across 16 countries and region where Bestworld operates.

In their concluding statement at the 14th Summit in Thailand, Asean leaders said they would welcome expansionary macroeconomic policies, including fiscal stimulus, monetary easing, access to credit including trade financing, and measures to support private sector ... to stimulate domestic demand.

1.    From your experience and perspective, how significant is the government support for private sector?

The government is mandated to expand the private sector's role in the national economy in order to benefit a greater number of people. They set the framework for economic plans that are then able to provide economic opportunities to many local enterprises that were previously unable to compete in the marketplace. These financial institutions have been sources of funds and expertise in the efforts of companies to expand and even to internationalize. Fiscal stimulus from the government is vital in boosting confidence at the national level.   Monetary policies to facilitate credit flow and measures to reduce business cost will certainly help to improve companies’ competitiveness and increase their chances of pulling through a potentially long period of recession.

We have received such fund support and I can say that indeed, the government with power and resources at its disposal can serve to level the playing field so that those smaller businesses with fewer resources but are equipped with talent, drive and passion to help the national economy -- will be empowered to do so.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore is already in recession and economists believe Malaysia and Thailand are on the brink, while Indonesian growth has slowed to its weakest pace in more than two years.

2.    The stimulus spending plans announced by governments across Asean may stem the economic damage to a certain extent, but what should they do to revive industries with a focus on exports which are not likely to stage a major recovery until consumers in the West start spending again? Is boosting intra-Asean trade the best solution?

Boosting intraregional Asean market has always been a good strategy, in both good and bad times. It is supposed to allow the free flow of the factors of production (land, capital, labor and product) and allows for freer movement of goods and services provided that trade barriers are reduced. If internal trade barriers were eliminated within this Asean grouping for instance, we can only benefit from that,  for it is a market that accounts for some 500 million people.

But to be able to do this, we need to ease trade barriers through policies that make it easy for goods and services to flow among member countries. We need to formulate common economic policies conducive for doing business. Then, raise standards for products and services so that businesses in the region may be able to stand well against any competition.

The 14th summit marked the implementation of a roadmap that aims turn what used to be a consensus-based group long derided as a talk-shop into a single community of 570 million people with a combined GDP of $2 trillion in six years.

3.    Do you think this goal is achievable in six years? What do you think could be the hurdles?
This single community referred to here is our vision for the Asean Common Market. The central benefit of intraregional trade is of course, increased productivity. With the elimination of trade barriers the factors of production also become more efficiently allocated therefore raising productivity. It is however a very competitive environment, wherein inefficient companies will suffer a loss of market shares.

The upside is, efficient firms stand to benefit from economies of scale, increased competitiveness and lower costs, and therefore can expect profitability. Consumers are benefited by the single market in the sense that the intense competition brings about cheaper products, more efficient service providers and allows for the innovation of new and better products.

However, to achieve the goal, we have to hurdle various challenges and limitation among the Asean countries.  First the countries that make up the Asean are made up of all different races, languages, religion, culture and varying economic conditions. These barriers are not that easily broken through.

Second, most of the countries belonging to this grouping are still in the developing stage.  They still need to focus on taking good care of their internal strifes, strengthening their own economies and addressing their social issues. We have taken big steps and we must work within the six-year period ideally, but It will not  be an easy task.

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