Senior government and business leaders from ASEAN gathered at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos to discuss the state of the global economy and map the key transformations reshaping the world. A significant focus of the discussions was on ASEAN, where government and business leaders evaluated whether the region is on the right track towards achieving ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015.
A panel session dedicated to ASEAN’s economic integration goal, “Creating the ASEAN Economic Community”, focused on the progress made towards the AEC 2015. It was recognised that while progress is being made, greater harmonisation of standards and regulations is needed in order to deliver the full potential of a united trade block. The panel focused on how deeper regional integration and regulatory harmonisation were co-dependent in achieving AEC 2015.
Various industry sectors are focused on supporting regional economic integration and regulatory harmonisation. Not least, the food industry, which remains committed to playing its part in contributing to AEC 2015 through a collaborative effort with government leaders. Reflecting on the valuable comments made at WEF Annual Meeting last week, Principal Advisor to the ASEAN Food & Beverage Alliance (AFBA), Pushpanathan Sundram commented that “AFBA is supporting the implementation of AEC 2015, as part of the food industry’s commitment. Comprised of national food associations in ASEAN, AFBA is seeking to partner ASEAN by addressing knowledge gaps in food issues and providing regulatory, technical and market information to stakeholders.”
Acknowledging the need for greater growth and prosperity in ASEAN, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, Pridiyathorn Devakula*, expressed the importance of tariff reductions in this region and highlighted that there needs to be more work done on cutting non-tariff barriers.
His sentiments were echoed by Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam* who said that ASEAN’s regional integration should spur governments to implement structural reforms, and that more developed ASEAN countries should assist less developed states in catching up to avoid a two-tier economic block.