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ABC Forum has a special focus on identifying bottlenecks and barriers hindering free trade of prioritised sectors in the context of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

The event convenes around six sector-based “Lifting-the-Barriers Roundtables” with vertical emphasis on issues specific to the selected sectors. The roundtables serve as a platform for different stakeholders to deliberate on the future of their sector and our ASEAN region as a whole. Participants of this discussion include regulators, private sector leaders, service providers, manufacturers, academics and many more. The selection of discussants aimed to provide a well rounded and truly reflective debate.


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Lacking In Certainty Hinders Legal And Tax Integration Efforts In ASEAN

Elements of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) include the development of a single market region with easy free flow trading of goods, services, investment and transfer of skilled labour, becoming a competitive economic region and achieving integration into the global economy.

Hence, strengthening key institutions to ensure good governance is also vital in ensuring an inclusive and sustainable economic development with AEC coming into effect in 2015. With this in mind, there is therefore a pressing need for legal harmonisation and improvements in tax-related matters. Harmonisation of legal rules is the way forward as it also can help to remove uncertainty, reduce cost, generate greater business confidence and ultimately advance ASEAN community-building goals.

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Single Market Needed For Automotive Sector To Really Take Off In ASEAN

The economic integration of ASEAN through AEC 2015 is expected to enhance the region’s competiveness, create a level-playing field and boost its role as a global supplier and market in the automotive industry. Other than natural market growth, government policy has also been, and will likely continue being a major driver of demand in the region.

This has manifested into two distinct forces that are shaping the automotive landscape in ASEAN- (1) The Evolution of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and (2) The Impact of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). Despite these aspirations, there are still many hurdles that prevent players to enjoy the full-fledged benefits of such integration.

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Financial Services Business Community Discusses Ways To Enhance Economic Integration

ASEAN needs an efficient integrated capital market in order to sustain its economic growth as it moves closer toward integration in 2015. However, it also faces challenges such as policy and regulation alignment, supervision and dispute resolution that threaten to derail such aspiration.

It is therefore imperative that policy makers to come together in building adequate safeguards while ensuring the benefits are shared by all parties involved. The intention is to achieve significant progress in building a regionally integrated market where companies or governments can raise capital across ASEAN markets, investors are able to invest freely across borders and banks can enter and operate across the region.

On the surface, these stated goals are an excellent objective, though the actual implementation is difficult considering complexities such as multi-currency environment, significant disparity in development standards and disparate fiscal and monetary policies among ASEAN nations.

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Investment Restrictions And Lack Of Transparency Among Major Concerns For Industry Players

As a region that is undergoing rapid economic growth, the demand for energy efficiency in ASEAN has also soared in recent decades. Therefore, energy security has also emerged as one of the key concerns in order for these countries to achieve sustainable development.

Today, resource producing nations in this region are also facing challenges in the areas of mineral, oil and gas due to a maturing resource base that affects their ability to reinvest in their businesses. More importantly, they are also facing the dilemma of choosing between attracting foreign investment and promoting local champions thus affecting all stakeholders concerned.

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Reduction In Barriers Necessary To Tap Into Full Potential Of ASEAN F&B Industry

Food trade plays a significant role in the economies of all ten ASEAN member states. Research shows that the removal of regulatory and technical barriers to trade would enable countries to ensure greater access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food as well as addressing food security concerns in the region.

With a growing middle class, rising incomes and greater economic prosperity, ASEAN is poised to face with increased in consumption and demand in this regard. Harmonisation of food standards will therefore accelerate the completion of ASEAN integration and help member states to achieve their full economic potential.

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E-Commerce The Way Forward For ASEAN’s Retail Sector

E-commerce would play an important role to integrate the ASEAN retail sector. High E-commerce growth rate in major ASEAN members is a clear indication that more consumers are adapting to E-Commerce as part of their retail experience. As E-commerce grows its share in contribution to the overall economy, its impact to economic growth and job creation will also be significant.

Despite such optimism, the borderless nature of E-commerce also creates a unique set of challenges. As a region with different level of economic developments, political systems, languages and cultures, there are also significant obstacles in realising its potential. The inability to address such challenges effectively also prevents optimal economic growth, job creation and the integration of a strong AEC.

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