ASEAN Launches Lifting-The-Barriers Report

By The Jakarta Post
In a bid to support the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015, the ASEAN Business Club (ABC) had just launched the ‘Lifting-the-Barriers Report’ at the Grand Hyatt on Friday, November 29, 2013, a white paper outlining possible solutions to critical bottlenecks and barriers hindering free trade in the region, such as economic nationalism, labour constraints, regulatory congestion and underdeveloped infrastructure. The LTB reports cover six priority sectors, namely Aviation, Connectivity, Infrastructure, Power & Utilities, Capital Markets, Financial Services and Healthcare. The ABC launched the white paper as a private sector initiative to support the development of an ASEAN Economic Community.

At the launch of the LTB reports, Nazir Razak, Group Chief Executive of CIMB Group and member of the ABC Advisory Council, stressed the need for robust private-public engagement to see through the goal of creating a viable economic bloc and underscored that despite progress made in eliminating most tariff lines at roughly 99.65%, non-tariff barriers between ASEAN countries remain high.

The report was drafted as a joint effort by CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI) and six research partners: McKinsey & Company (Infrastructure, Power and Utilities), The Boston Consulting Group (Financial Services), Bain & Company (Connectivity), Accenture (Healthcare), Oliver Wyman (Capital Markets) and the Centre for International Law from the National University of Singapore (Aviation).

As an initiative driven by the private sector, ABC brings together business leaders from ten ASEAN member states in an effort to support regional economic integration. The ABC Co-Chairman in Malaysia and CEO of CIMB Group Dato’ Sri Nazir Razak, emphasized the need for cooperation with the private sector to expedite progress in creating a viable economic bloc.

“The economic integration should be supported by binding commitment [made] by the governments so businesses can prepare themselves with certainty,” Nazir said.

The ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh, said in his opening speech that he welcomed the support provided by the private sector for ASEAN economic integration.

“The work for economic integration is primarily coordinated with the ASEAN Economic Community Council,” he added.

The Secretary General encouraged more private sector’s support so that the private sector can carry out in-depth market analysis of the region to identify potential markets and challenges that adds value to the ongoing discussions on how we can enhance the process of economic integration.