A Pathway to Recovery and Hope in ASEAN

A Pathway to Recovery and Hope in ASEAN

A PATHWAY TO RECOVERY AND HOPE FOR ASEAN: RECOMMENDATIONS FROM ASEAN BUSINESS ADVISORY COUNCIL, JOINT BUSINESS COUNCILS  AND SECTOR CHAMPIONS IN RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Following the 36th ASEAN Leaders Summit on 26th June, The ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC)  and its partner Joint Business Councils (JBC) and Sector Champions had recently submitted to the ASEAN Leaders its recommendations entitled Pathway to Recovery and Hope in ASEAN, a package of short-term proposals to facilitate coordinated, confidence-building mechanisms as countries in the region gradually re-open their economies.

Tan Sri Munir Majid, Chairman of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia and Chair of COVID-19 Response and Economic Recovery Working Committee fully believes that all necessary decisions need to be made fast and can only be made through the establishment of an ASEAN High Level Special Commission (AHLSC), as proposed in the report. The AHLSC will be supported by the setting up of the Special Business Advisory Board (SBAB) so that the public and private sector can work together to revive the ASEAN economy and to plan its further expansion.

SYNOPSIS

The report consists of proposals addressing immediate and longer-term measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic proposed by over 30 business councils, industry associations and collaborators from all 10 ASEAN member states, dialogue partner countries and regions, including China, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, the EU, US, Canada and Russia.

ASEAN BAC and its partner Joint Business Councils, Sector Champions and Knowledge Partner CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI) presents a package of recommendations under two principal headings; Dealing with a Current Pandemic and A Strategic and Smart Economic Recovery Plan. The purpose of these recommendations are to ensure the region ‘s rapid, comprehensive and sustainable economic recovery.

As ASEAN re-opens its economies, both the governments and the private sector – cannot operate on a business-as-usual basis. The “Pathway 225” consists of short and long term proposals to facilitate coordination and confidence-building mechanisms to secure ASEAN competitiveness and sustainable, equitable economic development across Southeast Asia.

DEALING WITH THE CURRENT PANDEMIC CRISIS AND GRADUAL REOPENING OF ECONOMIES

The key measures set out in this report are in line with the intentions of the Hanoi Plan of Action published on 19 June 2020, and endorsed by the ASEAN Leaders during their 36th ASEAN Summit on 26th June.

Among the recommendations included were:

1.  Exponential Increase In Mass Testing Capacity

Mobilize joint private and public campaigns for the dramatic scaling up of affordable, reliable and accessible mass testing capacity to restore business and general public
confidence across the region.

2. Contact Tracing

Adopt available technological innovations covering contact tracing and develop an ASEAN wide contact tracing system which would then support the reopening of borders and support the recovery of trade, travel and tourism.

3. Uninterrupted Supply Chain For Essential Goods And Services During The Pandemic

AMS should guide and incentivize the private sector to increase production of face masks, shields and PPE while strictly enforcing ASEAN-set standards.

ECONOMIC RECOVERY PLAN & THE NEED FOR FASTER ACTION

It is clear to the private sector that there needs to be an accelerated and more determined response to boost intra-ASEAN trade by equipping the region better for a more digitised future, and boost ASEAN’s competitiveness.

Among the recommendations included were:

1. Dealing With The Current Pandemic Crisis

The reopening of borders and recovery of trade can be supported by the development of an ASEAN wide contact tracing system whereas the Intra-ASEAN movements can be enhanced by allowing the health care professionals to move freely across borders.

2. Future Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness

ASEAN as a region must ensure access to an equal and affordable delivery of vaccines as soon as possible through the IMF (funding assistance) initiatives, the World Health Organization and other multilateral organisations.

3. Removal And Minimising Non-Tariff Barriers To Show Genuine Political Will And Leadership

The report highlighted on the institutionalisation of ASEAN agreement and to make a beneficial use of the current pandemic to eliminate non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to trade, especially for essential goods and services.

The document also highlighted the urgency of concluding the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to generate regional economic growth and cooperation NOW to compensate for the falling global demand. As proposed in the report, the setting up of the ASEAN High Level Special Commission (AHLSC) is to speed up decision-making against the unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic which threatens ASEAN lives and economies. The commission will be assisted by the proposed Special Business Advisory Board (SBAB) in its decision-making and call upon relevant official bodies to provide their input.