Asean can’t afford to let AEC fall flat

By The Malaysian Insider | Source: Jakarta Globe
The 21st century has been described as the Pacific century as the economic centre of gravity shifts east. The rise of China coupled with the strong growth of India and the nations that form Asean has generated a great deal of optimism.

Asean is a central clog in this new landscape. A market of 500 million consumers, it is seen as an important region, both in terms of geopolitics as well as economics. The region is rich in natural resources, has a large manufacturing base and straddles major sea lanes.

The year 2015 will be an important one for the grouping as it marks the start of the Asean Economic Community, or AEC. The leaders have decided that in order to compete economically in the new world order, Asean must integrate and form a common bloc. This makes a lot of sense economically but getting it done will require political will and commitment.

As a new report called “Lifting the barriers” points out, while the benefits of greater Asean integration are clear, the process is yet to be completed.

AEC envisages the goals of achieving a single market and production base, a highly competitive economic region, a region of equitable economic development and a region fully integrated into the global economy.

The Asean Business Club reports are categorised into six different sectors — financial services, capital markets, healthcare, connectivity, aviation and infrastructure, power and utilities — which are crucial to the growth of the region.

Leaders of the grouping should pay careful heed to the report and the concerns of the private sector. The AEC cannot afford to fail or be stalled as that would mean the people of the region will suffer.

It is hoped that the warning signs will be taken aboard and corrective measures taken before it is too late.