Manufacturing must be open to ASEAN: AMN

Azlan Othman

Members of the Asean Manufacturing Network (AMN) urged for their counterparts not to compete, but to complement each other and share information on manufacturing.

“Manufacturing should not be done just by one country, but must be open to all member countries of ASEAN,” they said this during the 1st AMN meeting yesterday.

President of National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCIBD) Haji Mohammad Hanafi bin Pehin Orang Kaya Digadong Seri Diraja Dato Laila Utama Haji Abdul Rahman represented Brunei Darussalam at the opening of the meeting, held at the NCCIBD, Beribi Industrial Complex.

AMN members also said that the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a wake-up call on the need for greater integration within ASEAN to look at near-shore options to shorten supply chains and increase proximity to customers, saying, “ASEAN, as a competitive economic grouping, should take advantage of this to distribute our production nodes according to the cost, skill and competitiveness across ASEAN.” They also called for supply chain coming from bigger economies to be minimised, as an opportunity for ASEAN to take lead participation.

They said, “The post-COVID-19 pandemic market is different. We need to share information which is sometimes difficult to attain due to competition domestically.

“We need to educate our workers on the Industrial Revolution 4.0, and ASEAN has the youngest workforce globally and is a great asset.

President of National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Haji Mohammad Hanafi bin Pehin Orang Kaya Digadong Seri Diraja Dato Laila Utama Haji Abdul Rahman (L) during the meeting. PHOTO: AZLAN OTHMAN

“There have been concerns on the obstacles faced in sharing information, and with the industrial revolution, the journey ahead is interesting.”

Members also called for the AMN chairmanship to be synchronised with the Chairmanship of ASEAN and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC), as well as for three AMN members to be in the ABAC.

The NCCIBD president meanwhile highlighted the fact that there aren’t many manufacturers in the Sultanate, but supports the efforts being undertaken by the AMN.

He said that he would like to see these efforts being formulated, while also welcoming matters put forward during the virtual meeting.

Deputy Secretary General of NCCIBD Haji Halim bin Haji Saim said, “NCCIBD is now getting more involved in ASEAN, and it is an opportune time to lure regional investors to carry out foreign direct investments (FDIs) in the country.”

While commenting that countries across the region should not compete, he said, “Countries with speciality can complement each other in manufacturing.”

However, he added, “It is unfortunate to note that some of the manufacturing companies are not among NCCIBD members”.

Haji Halim also underlined the logistics problem faced by Brunei amid the current pandemic.

The one-day meeting served as a platform to promote cooperation and coordination among manufacturing related associations in ASEAN; advocate and represent the interest of the manufacturing industry in ASEAN at regional and international forums; formulate and develop recommendations on measures to ensure sustainable supply of manufactured goods to be made available at national and regional levels; initiate, communicate and collaborate on programmes, plans and projects to restructure regional production networks in order to boost intra-regional trade and investments; and promote closer relations and cooperation between manufacturers in the region with other regional and international organisations with similar aims and objectives.