The Malaysian Reserve: Key Asean business leaders to meet in Singapore forum

Key regional business leaders from across Asean will gather for the inaugural Network Asean Forum (NAF) to brainstorm solutions to some of the issues obstructing the creation of an integrated Asean Economic Community (AEC) to be held on Aug 23 in Singapore.

“Despite Asean’s vast potential as a global trade and commercial centre, the private sector remains largely a fragmented market as member nations are at various levels of development. Also, the recent crisis experienced by members of the euro-zone is a harsh reminder of the formation of economic blocs that may carry unexpected pitfalls.

“It is for this reason that the formation of AEC must be done carefully and in a collaborative manner involving the representatives from all Asean members to ensure each party is fairly represented, said NAF chairman Patrick Walujo who is also an Asean Business Club (ABC) council member and the MD of Northstar Pacific Partners.

NAF convener and group CEO of CIMB Group Holdings Bhd Datuk Seri Nazir Razak said that there is insufficient critical mass support for Asean economic integration and although there has been improvement, much more needs to be done in the areas.

“Individually, each of the countries within Asean with the exception of Indonesia, represents a relatively small market.

“We want to compete to the likes of China and India, and with the US and Europe, which must recover to some point. To do so, we must build scale but not for scale’s sake alone.

“We must scale up in a sustainable and inclusive manner, and that means creating a collaborative regional bloc,” said Nazir.

Organised by the ABC and CIMB Asean Research Institute, a public organisation committed to the realising of the AEC, the NAF is premised on three goals — to identify bottlenecks and barriers to free trade, to construct solutions to industry specific obstacles and to bring together regional business leaders to shape Asean economic integration.

The NAF will also feature plenary sessions on topics such as the challenges of Asean as a single market, drivers for growth, and investing in Asean’s future.

Forum speakers include Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shammugaratnam, who will share his vision for Singapore’s role in an integrated Asean; AirAsia Bhd founder and group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, Ayala Corp Energy Holdings Ltd CEO Jaimed Augusto Zobel de Ayala and president of Bangkok Bank Chartsiri Sophonpanich.