‘Companies still need briefing on AEC’

National 2 minutes, 23 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

SOME industries and small and medium enterprises in ASEAN countries have yet to be fully informed about the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which aims to achieve a stable and highly competitive economic region through the grouping’s integration.

Ratna Shofi Inayati, an ASEAN studies expert at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said recently that familiarisation programmes to help businesses under ASEAN’s Priority Integration Sectors (PIS) understand the AEC have been carried out by ASEAN governments but some companies have yet to be briefed.

The 12 industries in the PIS are agro-based, air transport, automotive, ICT, electronics, fisheries, healthcare, rubber-based, textiles and clothing, tourism, wood-based and logistics as well as the food, agriculture and forestry sectors.

“The role of (each) government is highly needed in order to disseminate matters on the AEC to all industries and small and medium enterprises,” Ratna said in an e-mail response to The Brunei Times.

The 10 ASEAN member countries officially launched the AEC on December 31 last year. The grouping is targeting new heights of development and a more integrated region to gain global competitiveness.

The establishment of the AEC is a milestone in the regional economic integration agenda in ASEAN, offering opportunities in the form of a huge market of US$2.6 trillion and over 622 million people.

Ratna said the business sector as a provider of goods and services is required to understand the AEC and be ready to enter it.

Citing data from ASEAN, she said the level of understanding of the AEC by the industries in the PIS isn’t much different from that of society in general.

She said one of the important factors that each government in ASEAN should be concerned with is not just raising awareness on the AEC amongst the business community but also society.

“If society is increasingly aware and realises their role in regional economic cooperation, it is expected that they will be well-prepared, strengthen their competitiveness and able to create accelerated growth and economic security,” she said.

Although it is becoming a major achievement for the economic integration of the region, the AEC isn’t a final objective but rather part of an incremental process for increased development, she said.

This process becomes a challenge when the member states still have differences in levels of development.

The establishment of a regional community became a transformational policy shift from state-oriented to people-oriented and people-centered with the aim of increasing the welfare of the society. She said sustainability of the regional initiatives will have a major impact on aspects of economic fundamentals in ASEAN countries such as Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam, either directly or indirectly.

In 2014, ASEAN was collectively the third largest economy in Asia and the seventh largest in the world. Annual tourist arrivals were up from 62 million in 2007 to 105 million last year, nearly half of which were intra-ASEAN.

The Brunei Times