Helping Asean Move towards Market Integration
Q: How would you describe the cooperation between InWEnt and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)?
A: On behalf of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, InWEnt - Capacity Building International supports the Asean Secretariat since April 2008. Within the framework of the "Capacity Building for the Secretariat" project, InWEnt offers tailor made expertise to enhance the capacity of the Secretariat's personnel to cope with its broadened function following the entering into force of the Asean Charter in 2008.
Q: Please tell us about InWEnt's "Capacity Building for the ASEAN Secretariat" project? What does InWEnt expect from it?
A: During the 16th Asean -EU Ministerial Meeting in Nuremberg, Germany, in March 2007, both regional organisations agreed upon a master plan for enhancing Asean -EU relations and cooperation by supporting Asean integration. The entire project is laid out to support Asean's integration under the spirit of the Asean Charter and hence also contributes to the overall goal of German foreign policy of enhancing peace and security.
Our project follows a three-pronged approach:
a) Strengthening Asean Secretariat's administration and management;
b) Supporting Asean 's economic cooperation and integration; and
c) Raising the awareness about Asean through the media.
These three project components are in accordance with the three pillars of Asean geared towards Asean 's goal of realising the Asean Community by 2015.
Q: Asean plans to launch a single market in 2015. What could Asean learn from EU’s experience?
A: Well, one could think the EU should learn from Asean when you look at growth rates in Asia and Europe and how fast the Asean economies are recovering from the crisis compared to the EU. And I personally have learned a lot of things living for several years in Asia. So, it is never a one-way road - but still, of course the EU has some interesting experiences to offer.
First of all, we should never forget that the EU was created with the idea in mind to build lasting peace in Europe. And in these terms it was tremendously successful.
But you asked me about the single market. And one key achievement of the single market in my mind was to enable the 'poorer' economies (Greece, Portugal, Ireland) to catch up with the others. Having lower labour costs, but taking part in the same market was ideal conditions for investors. And, this is not a zero sum game in the sense that the richer economies lost jobs. The EU as a whole gained in terms of efficiency and competitiveness.
So, I think, Asean has already drawn this lesson. Asean has adopted Regional economic integration as a goal for the Asean Economic Community that is explicitly seen as a means for equitable economic development as well as global competitiveness.
Q: How would InWEnt's capacity building programme help this integration drive?
It is the overall objective of the project to strengthen the Asean Secretariat in promoting and facilitating the implementation of the Asean Charter and regional cooperation and integration among the Asean Member States. Let me give you some examples:
Through a sequence of workshops, trainings and policy dialogue with members of the "Asean Expert Group of Competition (AEGC)" we support e.g. "Developing Regional Guidelines for Competition Policy & Law (CPL) in Asean", which eventually leads to establishing the Asean Economic Community (AEC). The AEC is the end goal of economic integration for Asean and envisages being: (i) a single market and production base, (ii) a highly competitive economic region, (iii) a region of equitable economic development, and (iv) a region fully integrated into the global economy.
Another example: Economic Policy Dialogue with external partners (EPD) is meant to support ASEAN becoming fully integrated into the global economy. The AEC provides new opportunities for international investors that will be realised only when investors fully explore the potential for regional value-chains. The Economic Policy Dialogue in form of a 'Business Dialogue Retreat' will have two equal objectives: (i) One is, to enable Asean policy-makers to identify bottlenecks of strategic importance for the implementation of the AEC Blueprint, including other economic policies influencing Asean 's investment climate; (ii) the second is, to enable German companies to adjust their business rationale to current policy thinking of Asean key stakeholders. Raising the awareness about Asean through the media ....