13 Oct Special Report: Moving Ahead with the ASEAN Economic Community – Business Initiatives Across Borders
In this Special Report, we look at a number of bottom up initiatives that businesses are taking to drive the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) forward, that other companies may also profit from. The AEC potentially creates conditions to further production networks in ASEAN and some companies are already taking advantage of this. In so doing, the roles of government in providing the right frameworks, policies and infrastructure are also discussed. We will also consider cross border subregional development plans where neighbouring states are cooperating and creating the frameworks to plug in the private sector. In conclusion, we consider an emerging factor for ASEAN – the competition between China and Japan for influential roles in the region, both economically and politically. This need not be detrimental to ASEAN so long as the grouping has a clear direction of its own integration agenda both from the bottom up and from the top down.
We do not deny that what the ASEAN governments do is very important and indeed critical for the AEC. We do share concerns that the lack of capacity and will in one or more countries can slow and limit progress. The spectre of protectionist measures made in the name of nationalism is a real concern. Notwithstanding such concerns, this Special Report also hopes to add to the current analyses by pointing out what can be done by businesses and with government encouragement of cross-border frameworks to support a better integrated ASEAN. These efforts can be supplemented with the support of non-ASEAN countries, especially China and Japan.