| Danial Norjidi |
THE establishment of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) will bring tremendous benefits for businesses.
This was shared by Hajah Nor Ashikin binti Haji Johari, Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MoFAT), who was speaking during a trade dialogue titled ‘Asean Beyond 50: Benefits, Opportunities and Challenges’ at the Muzakarah Hall of the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Berakas yesterday.
Organised by the MoFAT as part of commemorative activities to celebrate Asean’s 50th anniversary, the event featured a number of presentations as well as a panel discussion.
“As we celebrate Asean’s 50th anniversary, it is noteworthy to look back at the foundation of the bloc and reflect how far we have come,” she said, noting that it was only 20 years ago during the 30th anniversary of Asean when leaders first envisioned an Asean economic region, where there is free flow of goods, services and investment, as well as freer movement of capital, equitable economic development and reduced poverty and socio-economic disparities.
On December 31, 2015, the AEC was realised, marking an important milestone in Asean’s economic integration process.
The acting permanent secretary said, “Tariffs and customs duties for goods traded among Asean member countries have been removed or reduced. Customs processes have been simplified. Efforts have been stepped up to mutually recognise or harmonise standards and technical regulations, as well as qualifications.”
She further affirmed that all this “has led to stronger trade and investment flows, and improved mobility of personnel within the region.”
“Asean has, therefore, evolved into an economic powerhouse, fuelled with a total combined population of 622 million people,” she continued, noting that more than half of Asean’s population is under the age of 30.
“Additionally, if Asean was considered as a single economy, it would be the sixth-largest in the world and the third-largest in Asia, with an annual growth rate projected at 4.7 per cent.
“Moving forward, and in reflection of the dynamic global economic landscape, coupled with other mega trends such as transformational technologies, Asean recognises the need to be more integrated, resilient, responsive and relevant.
“As such, in 2015, a new Vision 2025 was adopted for Asean, and for the AEC, there is a stronger emphasis on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), digital economy and e-commerce, amongst other emerging issues.
“We therefore hope that this session will provide insights on how we can capitalise on the opportunities under the AEC, especially for our companies to trade and invest beyond our borders, into the region, as well as beyond,” she added.
The event saw a briefing taking place, featuring presentations from the Department of International Trade, MoFAT; Asli KTM; Tasconi Pizza; and the Asean Business Advisory Council.
In their presentations, the speakers discussed the opportunities and benefits for Brunei Darussalam for being part of the AEC before responding to queries in question and answer sessions.