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ASEAN Economic Community: One Year On (Channel NewsAsia, Singapore Tonight)

03 Jan ASEAN Economic Community: One Year On (Channel NewsAsia, Singapore Tonight)

The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) has just marked the first year since its inception. But some companies, particularly SMEs, say they still haven’t been able to reap the benefits. SIIA Chairman Simon Tay spoke to Channel NewsAsia’s Singapore Tonight on 29 Dec about how giving SMEs access to the region is the bigger test ahead for the AEC. An excerpt from the segment is below. Video of the programme is available on Toggle (16:02 to 18:13).

Calvin Hui: ASEAN boasts a population of over 600 million people and a combined GDP of almost 3 trillion US dollars. The ASEAN Economic Community hopes to capture this potential by promoting regional integration and removing non-traffic barriers. But one year on since its inception, some Singapore companies say they have not seen any positive impact yet. One analyst says while bigger firms have been able to reap the benefits, SMEs across the region need help to be able to integrate into the broader market.

Associate Professor Simon Tay: But the bigger test, in the longer term, will be whether the SMEs will be able to also play across the region. And not just Singaporean SMEs, but Filipino SMEs, or Indonesian SMEs. Now, it will take some time, because the integration isn’t that deep, and there’s still too much bureaucracy and rules standing in the way. The tariffs, I think, are gone, but the non-tariff measures are almost like barriers to deeper integration.