ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Munir Majid was invited to speak at the “Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP): Opportunities for All” session at the “RCEP: Opportunities for Spain” Symposium on 28 September 2021. The session was moderated by Spain-ASEAN Business Association Vice President Mr Felipe Canet Cloquell.
Tan Sri Munir highlighted the dynamism of global trade driven by RCEP and said that the free trade agreement has immense potential to grow beyond ASEAN, more so if we take into account opportunities coming from cross memberships of RCEP member countries who also parties to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Tan Sri Munir noted that China has been making strategic moves to position itself to benefit from the RCEP and that it also recognises the need to become a member of CPTPP. He also suggested sectors such as sustainable technology, healthcare, and digital innovations that might be of particular interest to Spanish investors looking to invest in ASEAN.
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia held its fourth council meeting on 28 September 2021 chaired by Chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Munir Majid. Council Members Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon and Mr Raja Singham were also present, as were ASEAN-BAC Healthcare Working Group (HWG) Chair Dr Khor Swee Kheng, ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Consulting Director Ms Jukhee Hong, and the ASEAN-BAC secretariat team.
The meeting discussed upcoming activities in the remainder of the year, ASEAN-BAC HWG updates from Dr Khor, as well as ASEAN-BAC Legacy Projects and other ongoing national efforts by Mr Raja Singham.
The meeting also discussed applications for the upcoming ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) 2021 hosted under ASEAN-BAC Brunei’s Chairmanship. Malaysian businesses are invited to submit their application for this year’s awards by 14 October 2021.
Health Emergencies (ACCWG PHE)
Representatives of the ASEAN-BAC and the ASEAN-BAC Healthcare Working Group (HWG) presented at the 7th ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group on Public Health Emergencies (ACCWG PHE) Meeting held on 27 September 2021. The meeting was chaired by ACCWG PHE 2021 Chair Her Excellency Emaleen Abdul Rahman Teo.
ASEAN-BAC HWG 2021 Chair Dr Khor Swee Kheng shared the working group’s three priorities for the year which were distilled from the Pathway 225 report’s private sector recommendations on health, economic recovery, social cohesion, and political security. In noting that these priorities were well aligned with those of the ACCWG PHE’s, Dr Khor proposed that the ASEAN-BAC HWG be recognised as a stakeholder and engage regularly with the ACCWG PHE.
Her Excellency Emaleen said that the ACCWG PHE fully supports the proposed recommendations by the ASEAN-BAC. She also seconded the statement by ASEAN-BAC 2021 Chair The Hon. Rozaimeriyanty Abd Rahman that private sector involvement is needed to facilitate the region’s pandemic recovery.
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia held a consultation meeting with US business associations on 17 September 2021 to discuss Malaysia’s efforts in attracting foreign direct investment from the United States and its business communities. The discussion was moderated by the ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member, Mr Raja Singham and hosted by CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy Executive Director Ms Jukhee Hong.
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Munir Majid opened the meeting by sharing the same concern as the foreign businesses of the dysfunction in the Malaysian government caused by domestic political turmoil, on top of the unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he remarked that Malaysia’s attractiveness for foreign investment still remains and can be enhanced with hopes of a much-needed respite for the country to get down to business for economic benefit.
However, he noted that Malaysia’s attractiveness as a destination for foreign investment remains despite the unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing domestic political turmoil.
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon, highlighted that the ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) could serve as an anchor and catalyst for change as its provisions would impose a wide range of standards that the Malaysian public and private sectors would need to comply with.
Mr. Raja Singham, on the other hand, stressed the need for a stronger digital workforce in the country which can flourish given the right environment, platform, and training — but this would require input from employers on where the gaps and demand for skills are.
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ASEAN-BAC Malaysia held a consultation meeting with the China-ASEAN Business Council (CABC), Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM), and the Malaysia-China Friendship Association (PPMC) on 17 September 2021 to discuss Malaysia’s efforts in attracting foreign direct investment from China and its business communities. The discussion was moderated by ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon and hosted by CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy Executive Director Ms Jukhee Hong.
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Munir Majid raised the need for Malaysia to not only look to the west for cutting edge technologies but also to others closer to home such as China. He also proposed for Malaysia to leverage on China’s cutting edge technologies to build its sustainable economy, especially in the areas of renewable energy and electric vehicles.
Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon said that ASEAN-BAC is keen to elevate its engagement with China’s business community to gather ideas and policy recommendations that can then be shared with ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) during the ASEAN-BAC’s bi-annual meetings with them.
Fellow ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member Mr Raja Singham, for his part, stressed that greater engagement with China’s business associations was needed since Chinese companies were not aware of the various trade, investment, and business incentives offered by the Malaysian government.
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Chairman Tan Sri Munir Majid was invited to present at a dialogue moderated by ASEAN-BAC 2021 Chair The Hon. Yanty Rahman during the ASEAN Energy Business Forum held on 16 September 2021.
In his presentation during the dialogue, Tan Sri Munir stressed the need to attract more structured private investments to the region, particularly proposals to promote green finance and sustainability.
He also said that the ASEAN-BAC was keen to regularly engage and work together with ASEAN Energy Ministers to achieve ASEAN’s net-zero target.
Finally, Tan Sri Munir shared the “21 Actions for a Greener ASEAN” from a series of reports published by CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy which were submitted to the Brunei government. The four key components highlighted in the reports were green stimulus spending, green national budgets and taxation, green investment, and green jobs.
The dialogue centred on the importance for the ASEAN community to work together to ensure energy security, accessibility, affordability and sustainability for all by accelerating the energy transition and strengthening energy resilience through greater innovation and cooperation.
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Members and ASEAN-BAC Deputy Executive Director Ms Jukhee Hong attended the Budget 2022 Consultation Meeting held on 16 September 2021 chaired by Malaysian Minister of Finance The Hon. Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz.
Chairman Tan Sri Munir Majid delivered introductory remarks for ASEAN-BAC Malaysia, while Council Member Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon touched on the need for Malaysia to ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) as it could play a key role in facilitating greater trade and investment.
Council Member Mr Raja Singham spoke about UPLIFT, an umbrella platform by BAC Education Group that seeks to drive nation-building initiatives, especially initiatives to support vulnerable communities, through the mobilisation of shared resources and public-private partnerships in line with the United Nations’ seven (7) Sustainable Development Goals.
Ms Jukhee Hong, for her part, stressed the need for a focus on green and sustainable recovery. She highlighted 21 Actions for a Greener ASEAN as well as four related reports published by CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy (CARI) that had been presented to ASEAN Economic Ministers recently.
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Munir Majid and ASEAN-BAC Chair 2021 The Hon. Rozaimeriyanty Abd Rahman attended a dialogue with Switzerland Trade Minister H.E. Guy Parmelin hosted in conjunction with the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting held on 13 September 2021. Brunei’s Minister of Finance and Economy (MOFE) II The Hon. Dato Dr Amin Liew Abdullah chaired the dialogue.
Tan Sri Munir highlighted potential synergies between sustainable development, technology, and healthcare, especially in a COVID-19 endemic environment. For example, he said, the Swiss could bring their expertise in the health and pharmaceutical industries to the region by manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines in ASEAN.
Tan Sri Munir also raised the possibility of collaborating with the Swiss on financial inclusion efforts through the ASEAN Financial Inclusion Solutions (AFIS) platform and climate change initiatives, stressing the need to focus on the benefits of renewable energy rather than its costs.
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Munir Majid and 11 other Council Members from ASEAN-BAC chapters across the region attended the 53rd ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Interface held on 8 September 2021. The meeting was chaired by Brunei’s Minister of Finance and Economy (MOFE) II The Hon. Dato Dr Amin Liew Abdullah and co-chaired by ASEAN-BAC 2021 Chair The Hon. Rozaimeriyanty Abd Rahman.
Tan Sri Munir highlighted (i) four research papers published by CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy in early 2021 which were presented to Brunei’s MOFE II The Hon. Yanty Rahman, (ii) the establishment of an ASEAN-BAC climate-focused working group to drive the region’s green and sustainable economic recovery agenda, as well as (iii) the statement by the ASEAN-BAC Healthcare Working Group and Joint Business Councils on the need to implement an ASEAN travel corridor in partnership with the private sector to facilitate the business activity and the movement of people and goods, ensure equal recognition of vaccines for the reopening of borders, and accelerate the implementation of the ASEAN Medical Device Directive 2015 as emphasized in the Pathway 225 Report published in early 2020.
Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) The Hon. Senator Datuk Lim Ban Hong echoed his support for partnerships with the private sector to create a path for sustainable growth to support economic recovery.
The third ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) Healthcare Working Group (HWG) meeting of the year was chaired by Dr Khor Swee Kheng and attended by ASEAN-BAC and Joint Business Councils (JBCs) members and staffers.
The meeting sought to gather input from the members present on the ASEAN-BAC HWG statement for the upcoming ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) meeting to be held on 8 September 2021 which will focus on health-related policy recommendations and initiatives from ASEAN’s private sector.
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Members participated in the 18th ASEAN-BAC-Joint Business Councils (JBCs) meeting organised by the ASEAN-BAC and chaired by ASEAN-BAC 2021 Chair The Hon. Siti Rozaimeriyanty Abd Rahman. Over 90 JBC members, ASEAN-BAC Members and staffers attended the meeting.
CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy (CARI) Executive Director Ms Jukhee Hong touched on the establishment of the Green and Sustainable Economy Working Group (GSEWG) that aims to provide policy recommendations to policymakers to commit to short, medium and long-term policy actions such as limiting global warming to 1.5°C and achieving carbon neutrality in ASEAN by 2050.
ASEAN-BAC 2021 Chair The Hon. Yanty also informed the meeting that the online application of ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) 2021 is now open on its website and encouraged ASEAN businesses to apply for the prestigious award. Under the ASEAN-BAC Brunei chairmanship, ABA 2021 will be held concurrently with the ASEAN Business Industry Summit (ABIS) on 25 October 2021.