2 APRIL 2019
CARI’s ASEAN Roundtable Series on 2 April 2019 brought together a panel of speakers who discussed their views and concerns on Non-Tariff Barriers and its impact on ASEAN trade. Titled “Future of ASEAN Trade: Tackling Non-Tariff Barriers in the New Trade Order,” the speakers concurred that Non-Tariff Barriers pose an obstacle to ASEAN growth and strong political will is needed to fully address NTBs.
1 APRIL 2019
The CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI) and the ASEAN Business Club (ABC) in collaboration with the Embassy of Sweden held an ASEAN Roundtable Series on 1 April 2019 in Kuala Lumpur, which sought to analyse how ASEAN can navigate current uncertainties in the global trade environment, especially in relation to the ongoing US-China Trade War, rising protectionist sentiments, and challenges to the rules-based liberal order. The event also sought to analyse ways in which Sweden and Europe could work alongside ASEAN to respond to these economically difficult times.
11 MARCH 2019
During the dialogue titled “Exclusive Dialogue with YB Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Deputy Minister, Ministry of International Trade and Industry of Malaysia: ASEAN Integration Outlook 2019”, Dr. Ong stated that while ASEAN remains strong economically, many gaps need to be filled in order to achieve full integration. Growth in intra-ASEAN trade has moderated while the number of Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) has steadily increased.
8 JANUARY 2019
The first CARI Briefing of 2019 was presented by Trade Facilitation Key Expert for ASEAN Regional Integration Support by the EU (ARISE) Plus Paolo R. Vergano, where he expanded upon the benefits of the ASEAN Solutions for Investments, Services and Trade (ASSIST) platform. Titled ‘Leveraging ASEAN solutions for trade through ASSIST: The EU’s support under the ARISE Plus Programme’, during the briefing Paolo argued that the platform is the best mechanism for ASEAN-based entities to address any issues they may face with regards to cross border intra-ASEAN trade in goods and services, and in furthering the economic integration of the region as laid down in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) agenda of 2015, particularly through the promotion of regulatory transparency.
14 AUGUST 2018
The advent of Trade War between the U.S. and China has seen many markets fearing the effects it would have on the rules-based, free trade system and open global economy. What started with the United States imposing global safeguard tariffs on solar panels and washing machines, has now led to tariffs on steels, aluminium, automobiles, food, motorcycles, machinery, and electrical equipment and electrical equipment.
18 JULY 2018
CARI’S ASEAN Roundtable series on the 18th July 2018 brought together a panel of eminent speakers who dissected the probability of a new financial crisis in Asia, as well as the direct and indirect effects of any fallout. Titled “What Lessons Learned from Financial Crises of Recent Times”, the panel speakers considered very carefully the parallels with past upheavals such as the Asian Financial Crisis (AFC) and the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) within their contextual applicability to the current scenario. Globalisation, which was in its nascent stages when the first crisis hit, has matured rapidly in the intervening period. The result is that the world has moved from a unipolar to a multipolar environment.
15 MAY 2018
This roundtable discussed the need to liberalise ASEAN labour mobility in the near term, as well as execute urgent education reforms and the reskilling of its workforce to fill the skills gaps in the region, underlined by the requirements of Industry 4.0. Although the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) has envisioned for the free movement of skilled labour and business visitors within the bloc, there is a deficit in the supply of needed workforce skill sets within the ASEAN region that goes beyond solely addressing the issue of labour mobility. There is an urgent need to address the paradigm shifts that ASEAN’s labour force will need to face from technological changes. A McKinsey report highlighted that by 2030, 800 million jobs will be lost to automation. Locally, a Khazanah paper concluded that 54 per cent of all jobs in Malaysia were at high risk of being displaced in the next 20 years. Low-skilled jobs were particularly vulnerable, with as many as 80 per cent classified as high risk.
24 NOVEMBER 2017
This roundtable was hosted in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank to discuss ways on how to broaden the investor base in ASEAN bond markets. The discussion addressed challenges for issuers and investors in participating in the bond markets as well as solutions from a regulatory perspective. Regulators, issuers and investors all agreed that the best way to broaden the investor base, especially to encourage the participation of retail investors, is to bring more stability to ASEAN bond markets. They said that in order to create a conducive environment for both issuers and investors via domestic regulations there should be uniformity in regulations across the region and an improvement in connectivity of markets within the region.
21 NOVEMBER 2017
The roundtable discussed the opportunities and challenges in the digital age for businesses operating in ASEAN. The discussion also covered the challenges faced by Australian businesses when trying to set up in the region. Roundtable panelists presented ways in which to address these challenges including conducive regulations, best practices for governments in the region and continued advocacy efforts by private sector to reduce barriers to doing business in the region by the governments.
21 AUGUST 2017
The roundtable sought to outline the challenges faced by investors and issues in ASEAN capital markets, discuss steps required to deepen them, current ASEAN Capital Markets Forum initiatives and what the region can do to raise funds for infrastructure. Suggestions to deepen capital markets in ASEAN included a review of the ASEAN Trading Link and a promoting ASEAN as an asset class and pushing forward green bonds. More practical suggestions including creating a virtual bourse and ASEAN markets information hub as well as having safeguard mechanisms to incentivise developing countries to join initiatives to connect ASEAN markets. A presentation by McKinsey & Company titled Deepening Capital Markets in Emerging Economies which uses an index to gauge the vibrancy of capital markets set the background for the discussion.
19 JULY 2017
This roundtable discussed the opportunities and challenges of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for ASEAN. The BRI (formerly known as One Belt One Road or OBOR), is China’s grand plan to build and improve infrastructure to revive ancient silk trade routes, both land and sea. Chinese President Xi Jinping first announced the massive undertaking in 2013. It covers over 65 countries, encompasses around 30 percent of the world’s GDP and over 35 percent of the world trade. The target is for the two components of BRI, the Silk Route Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Route, to cover 80 percent of world trade by 2050. With the Asian Development Bank estimating that developing Asia will require US$ 1.7 trillion of investment per year up to 2030 to keep up with its current growth momentum, many believe that the BRI is poised to sustain the infrastructure boom needed within ASEAN as well.
21 APRIL 2017
After 43 years of being a member of the European Union, in a referendum and a result that shocked most, Britain decided to leave the EU. In the latest development in the lead up to this roundtable current United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May called for elections in early June of this year. She resorted to this measure to ensure that she has the mandate of the British people to lead the country through Brexit, a process which she set in motion on 29th March 2017 by invoking Article 50. This roundtable discussed the factors that made Brexit a reality and the various lessons that ASEAN can learn from the unexpected outcome.
14 MARCH 2017
The roundtable discussed the potential impacts of President Trump’s economic and foreign policies on ASEAN. In his opening remarks, Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid, Chairman of CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI) said that, “It is important to note there is a shaking up of the current world order and it is a threat to global trade which is the biggest perceived business risk.” He added that, “America’s might and power require a look at President Trump and his policies.” Each panellist agreed that any action the United States may take will have an indirect or direct impact on ASEAN. However, they also reiterated the unpredictability of President Trump’s economic and foreign policies makes it difficult to say for sure what policies will and will not enacted. A recent United States Trade Representative (USTR) trade policy report outlined the possible direction of current Administration’s trade policies, which signals a rise in bilateral trade agreements putting an end to the era of the US pursuing multilateralism.
22 NOVEMBER 2016
Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid opened the session by setting the tone for the discussion, “As always the most important thing is execution. This document does admit that there were some failures in execution of the 2010 plans among the successes. Execution is so critical and has become more critical under the new Trump Administration. At the very least we can expect difficulty in terms of free trade agreements.” He continued on saying that, “In the last roundtable we talked about the anaemic world economic growth and how ASEAN in its own integration must compensate for some of this. This compensation now becomes a necessity so the integration effort has got to be real and serious, not just a plan.”
29 SEPTEMBER 2016
The roundtable discussed the growth prospects for Asean economies in the face of a global stagnating economy. “China’s rebalancing to consumer led growth and a maturing supply chain reduces the demand for Asean imports. Europe and Japan are not doing particularly well, therefore the only delta for global growth will be from the US,” said Dr. Arup Raha, CARI Chief Economist. In this regard, he commented that Asean cannot hope for an export led growth recovery – a view which was echoed across all the speakers. With little hope on the external front, Asean economies will need to turn to ammunition on the domestic front. What policies can be pursued to spur growth in the 3-5 year horizon? Consumer demand has held up thanks to low energy prices and low inflation, however, the space for monetary policy is tightening. Dr. Arup posed questions on the scope for fiscal policy and addressing inequality which has proved to be a drag on growth prospects.
30 AUGUST 2016
The roundtable discussed the South China Sea issue will test “the Asean way” of decision making, an additional layer of complexity arises from the fact that the economic influence of China is one that cannot be ignored. China is the largest trading partner to the Asean block (15.2% of total trade) and represents a major source of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar. Complexity arises from the varying levels of economic dependencies of Asean members with China. The different degrees of “cheque book diplomacy” results in coming up with a multilateral solution to addressing relationships with China challenging.