ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) was formed following decision of the ASEAN Leaders at the 7th ASEAN Summit, with the mandate to provide private sector feedback and guidance to boost ASEAN’s efforts towards economic integration.

Accordingly, ASEAN-BAC’s activities are primarily focused on reviewing and identifying issues to facilitate and promote economic cooperation and integration. The Council also submits annual recommendations for the consideration of the ASEAN Leaders and the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM). ASEAN-BAC’s members are appointed by the Ministers in charge, and comprise of high-level CEOs of companies from each member country. Each country is represented by a maximum of three members, with one representing the interest of the small and medium-sized enterprises.

Special ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) & Special ASEAN Plus Three Economic Ministers’ (AEM +3)
Virtual Conference Meeting

4th June

Second from left: YB Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Minister of Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Malaysia, Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Mohd Munir Majid, Chairman of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia & Mr. Mohd Zahid Abdullah, Senior Director of ASEAN Economic Integration Division, MITI.

The ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) presented its Outline for ASEAN Action (OAA) to the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEMs) on the Occasion of Special ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) and Special ASEAN Plus Three Economic Ministers’ (AEM +3) via Virtual Conference Meeting on COVID-19 Response.

In its presentation, ASEAN-BAC reiterated its call for the establishment of a Special Commission to ensure the safety of the ASEAN region and accelerate its recovery from the human and economic ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

ASEAN-BAC, in close consultation with joint ASEAN business councils across the world and its knowledge partner CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI), has compiled a detailed matrix of urgent and economic recovery steps that the regional group must undertake.

The ASEAN-BAC presentation to the Economic Ministers, supported by 20 Business Councils and Associations from across the world and other Business Associations.

In its presentation to the AEMs, ASEAN-BAC emphasized both the immediate term challenges and the subsequent recovery process.

ASEAN-BAC identified six short-term priority measures to send the strongest signal that ASEAN is cohesive and responsive at this most trying of times, including the extensive support of the private sector in protecting lives and restarting the economy. It was also emphasised that ASEAN must work together to ensure the Covid-19 vaccine is distributed regionally when it becomes available to ensure that no member state and its citizens are left behind.

Included in the six short-term priority measures are recommendations by the businesses, united in its position in support of:

(1) Increasing the mass testing of Covid-19 within the region
(2) Eliminating NTBs and minimizing NTMs
(3) Customs automation and streamlining
(4) Concluding the signing of RCEP within a short time frame
(5) Easing the flow of essential goods and services intra-ASEAN
(6) The inclusion of the private sector in government discussions within the
region, including ASEAN-BAC and its partners.

The ASEAN-BAC presentation to the economic ministers, supported by 20 Business Councils and Associations from across the world and other business associations, is the first release of over 300 recommendations that will be further refined by CARI to be put forward in the effort to protect and restart the ASEAN economy.

ASEAN-BAC and Joint Business Councils (JBCs) Call For ASEAN High Level Special Commission

20th May

ASEAN Business Advisory Council and Joint Business Councils and Partner Sector Champions.
The ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC), the Apex Private Sector Organisation for ASEAN, together with its Joint Business Councils (JBCs) partners and other partner organisations, today published a nine-point Joint Statement calling for more cohesive and responsive collective action by the ASEAN member states in their fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and in the development of a post-pandemic economic recovery for the ASEAN region.
Speaking about the Joint Statement, ASEAN BAC Chairman, Dr Doan Duy Khuong said: “These are extraordinary and unprecedented times which we believe calls for urgent, extraordinary and unprecedented action from ASEAN. The time for ASEAN to prove its collective strength to mitigate the worst impacts of the on-going pandemic and ensure the long-term prosperity and wellness of its people through fast action is now”. 


The nine-point Joint Statement :

1. Business councils stand united with ASEAN
2. An opportunity for ASEAN to demonstrate cohesiveness in a pandemic
3. The immediate action of ASEAN is critical to its long-term prosperity
4. A new and transformative normal is needed to fast track ASEAN economic
5. Proposal to establish COVID-19 High-Level Special Commission (HLSC) with
private sector’s involvement
6. Proposed swift formation of COVID-19 HLSC – in time to submit medium to
long-term recommendations to ASEAN Summit by November 2020

7. Priority sectors: travel, essential goods and related supply chains,
medical services, digital tools

8. Deepen ASEAN Economic Integration – 
making ASEAN destination of choice
for FDI

9. Business community looks to ASEAN for bold and decisive way forward


The Joint Statement notes that “for post-pandemic economic recovery, it is even more important that the region work as one”, going to point out that “Economic recovery will not be quick and simple, but there will be significant opportunities for ASEAN to take advantage of the expected rapid recalibration of supply chains globally, and position itself as a destination of choice in global markets for the production of goods and the provision of services to support manufacturing.

The Joint Statement is supported by the Australia-ASEAN Business Council, AustCham ASEAN, ASEAN New Zealand Business Council, Canada-ASEAN Business Council, EU-ASEAN Business Council, UK-ASEAN Business Council and the US-ASEAN Business Council.

Astro Awani Interview:
Tan Sri Munir Majid, Chairman of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia on Keeping the ASEAN Market Open

April 15th & April 21st | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Click HERE for ASTRO Awani
Full Interview – 15th April 2020

Click HERE for ASTRO Awani
Full Interview – 21st April 2020

ASTRO Awani Virtual Interview with Tan Sri Munir Majid, Chairman of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia.

In reference to the previous ASEAN BAC Response to ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on COVID-19 Pandemic, Tan Sri Munir Majid emphasised ASEAN’s commitment to keep the market open for trade and investment in an interview with Astro Awani on 15th of April, followed by another interview on 21st of April.

Both interviews touched on how the pandemic has further demonstrated the need for multilateralism among the ASEAN member states by working together and gradually get the ASEAN economic running again. Tan Sri mentioned that it was discussed in the ASEAN-BAC Meeting on the 9th April, to look into the possibility of creating a group of healthcare experts to address the current pandemic. He further emphasised the importance of a sense of urgency which ASEAN leaders need to immediately implement recommended steps.

Tan Sri Dr. Munir also added that ASEAN must ensure the regional cooperation trade is enhanced by the removal of the Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) as there are still restrictions in the movement of goods due to the disrupted supply chains. As mentioned in the interview on 15th April, Tan Sri also stated that he was hoping to witness ASEAN’s demand being generated at the regional level and the need to sign the agreement of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

ASEAN-BAC Response to ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on COVID-19 Pandemic

April 16th | Jakarta, Indonesia

ASEAN Business Advisory Council urges ASEAN Leaders to take urgent measures to ensure uninterrupted supply chains.

The ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) commended the ASEAN Leaders, under the Chairmanship of H.E. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Viet Nam, for staging a Special Summit through video conference on 14th April 2020 to put together the much-anticipated ASEAN Collective Response to the Outbreak of Corona virus Disease 2019. In these most trying times, when the effectiveness of multilateralism is put to a serious test, ASEAN-BAC hoped that the call to make ASEAN Cohesive and Responsive will be truly fulfilled in this defining moment.

ASEAN-BAC have read with satisfaction and taken careful note of the principles, elements and directions contained in the Declaration that will guide us forward. ASEAN-BAC have also noted with appreciation the different initiatives and measures undertaken by the ASEAN Member States in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable especially our MSMEs as put together by the ASEAN Secretariat.

On the economic front, ASEAN-BAC fully appreciate and support the expression of the Leaders’ reaffirmation of its “commitment to take collective action and coordinate policies in mitigating the economic and social impact from the pandemic, safeguarding the people’s well-being and maintaining socio-economic stability”.

However, ASEAN-BAC believe these unprecedented and extra-ordinary times, urgently warrant bold and decisive action to create confidence and assure ASEAN markets, businesses and peoples at national levels and more so at the regional level. At this critical juncture, we have to work together and gradually get the ASEAN economic engine up and running again – with all the critical health and science-related issues carefully considered in such a delicate transition.

As ASEAN-BAC and its partners stand united with its Leaders in this “war” to contain COVID-19, we the private sector put forward for the Leaders’ immediate consideration the following:

1. Food Security
2. Gradual Re-opening of the Economy
3. Trade Facilitation
4. Social Safety Nets
5. ASEAN Pandemic Recovery Fund
6. Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
7. The Voice of Private Sector

85th ASEAN-BAC Meeting

June 18th | Video Conference

As the International community was still battling the COVID-19 pandemic, the 85th ASEAN-BAC Meeting was held on 18th June 2020 via Video Conference, hosted by the Secretariat in Jakarta. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Doan Duy Khuong of Vietnam and was participated by more than 40 ASEAN-BAC Council Members & Staffers along with 2 Guest Speakers, Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai, President of Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) and Dr. Lloyd Balajadia, Chair of ASEAN Pharmaceutical Club (APC).

The meeting comprised discussion on the summary record of the previous meeting, Proposal of Establishment of the ASEAN Manufacturer’s Network by The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), Presentation on the Support for ASEAN Pharmaceutical Club (APC), Updates on Digital Trade Connect (Thailand), 2020 Calendar Activities, ASEAN-BAC Interface with the ASEAN Leaders on 26th June 2020, Engagement with the Special AEM, JBC Recommendations on COVID-19 and ASEAN ERP & Institutional Strengthening of ASEAN-BAC.

Video Conference – 85th ASEAN-BAC Meeting on 18th June 2020

Proposal of Establishment of the ASEAN Manufacturer’s Network (AMN) by The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM):

Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai, President of FMM presented the Proposal of Establishment of the ASEAN Manufacturer’s Network (AMN) which emphasized on ASEAN & Malaysian manufacturers that have been facing supply chain disruption from production companies in China due to Covid-19 global pandemic.

Some of the presentation highlights include on how ASEAN as a single market to have a single networking block on various issues: manufacturing and services, retail, consumer products, healthcare, financial services, and technology. The creation of AMN is to serve as a networking platform for manufacturing associations in ASEAN and identify supply chain opportunities, while also working with ASEAN related trade associations, including private and public institutions.

Some feedback from Council Members on the AMN:

– Tan Sri Munir Majid, Chairman of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia, recommended gaining support from the Chambers of Commerce and Industry in all AMS. He informed the attendees that ASEAN-BAC has proposed the setting up of ASEAN High Level Special Commission to the AEM to swiftly take up issues arising from Covid-19

– Mr. George Barcelon of ASEAN-BAC Philippines, commented on the broad work of manufacturing. He believed that having a clear structure should be of primary concern and identified the need to get participation from different industry sectors (i.e. electronic, automotive, etc.).

Tan Sri Soh thanked the Council for their feedback and explained on AMN’s plan to formalize an MOU with respective Chambers from the AMS. The Council approved on the support for the establishment of AMN and approved the Secretariat to perform due diligence in its undertaking.

ASEAN Pharmaceutical Club (APC):

Dr. Lloyd Balajadia, Chairman of APC presented on the large demand for pharmaceutical items during the current pandemic. Many of the members of APC are manufacturing companies, 40% in the Philippines alone. He called upon the situation post-pandemic with the “new abnormal” and the “new beginning” that also presents new opportunities.

Established in 2005, APC aimed to promote, protect and the advancement of the pharmaceutical industry. Current members include 5 countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

Dr.Lloyd also explained on the current situation of petitioning for APC and ASEAN Pharmaceutical Research Industry Association (APRIA) to participate in the ASEAN Pharmaceutical Product Working Group (PPWG) and have sent letter of request to the ASEAN Secretariat.

Digital Trade Connect (Thailand):

Khun Kobsak Duangdee of ASEAN-BAC Thailand, informed the Council on the upcoming Digital Trade Connect Focal Point virtual meeting on 23rd of June 2020. Being the first meeting, he opined that maximum participation is necessary and has sought assistance from ASEAN Secretariat and ASEAN-BAC Secretariat to follow up on attendance confirmations from the ICT divisions as well as focal points from the AMS.

2020 Calendar Activities:

ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) and ASEAN Business & Investment Summit (ABIS)

Mme. Nguyen Thi Nga of ASEAN-BAC Vietnam and ABA Chairwoman informed that the global pandemic situation has hindered progress of preparation and overall has lost four months’ worth of preparation. The Council supported to organize ABA virtually, however worried such a platform may take away from the prestige of the event.

As there had been overwhelming support to cancel ABA for 2020, the Council agreed to give Mme. Nga time to discuss internally with ASEAN-BAC Vietnam and the knowledge partner before announcing her final decision.

Mr. Vu Anh Duc of ASEAN-BAC Vietnam informed that ABIS is still a possibility with it being held online. However, Vietnam plans to have a physical Council Meeting in Hanoi in November.

ASEAN-BAC Interface with the ASEAN Leaders

Mr. Gil Gonzales, Executive Director of ASEAN-BAC briefed the Council on the contents of the presentation to the Leaders. In conjunction of the 36th ASEAN Summit, the presentation will be presented by Dr. Doan Duy Khuong, ASEAN Chair of 2020, Tan Sri Munir Majid, Chairman of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia & Ms. Yanty Rahman of ASEAN-BAC Brunei on 26th of June via Video Conference.

Engagement with the Special AEM

Tan Sri Munir Majid updated the Council on the recent Special AEM in which he presented on 4th of June 2020. He presented on the proposal to create the High-Level Special Commission (HLSC) to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. The HLSC was proposed to be comprised of a Leader’s “right-hand man” and the private sector, whether it being deputy Prime Minister, or a Minister. Tan Sri also emphasised the need for each ASEAN-BAC Country Chair to push their respective Ministries to ensure that there is a positive response to the HLSC.

JBC Recommendations on COVID-19 and ASEAN ERP

Mr. Gil Gonzales updated the Council on the outcome of the matrix on Covid-19 done a month prior. With CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI)’s help in collating and digesting the data, the secretariat received more than 300 bullet points from ASEAN-BAC, Joint Business Councils (JBC) and Associations. The initial results have been put in an outline as initiated by Tan Sri Munir, which will be presented to the Leaders.

Institutional Strengthening of ASEAN-BAC

Ms. Jukhee Hong, Deputy Executive Director of ASEAN-BAC, presented the ASEAN-BAC Forward: Funding & Institutional Reform Masterplan (AFFIRM). The three pillars of her presentation include: Strengthening the Secretariat, Resource Mobilization, and Strengthening Public-Private Sector Engagement.

Mr. Suryo Nugroho of ASEAN Secretariat believed this to be a great initiative and technically does not need ASEAN approval on its development. However, he opined that the most important matter is the optics, and recommended going to the ASEAN indigenous companies first, prior to the foreign (JBCs) for funding or membership.

84th ASEAN-BAC Meeting

April 9th | Video Conference

The 84th ASEAN-BAC Meeting was held on 9th April 2020 via video conference platform due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, hosted by Thai Bankers Association. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Doan Duy Khuong of Vietnam and was participated by more than 40 ASEAN-BAC Council Members & Staffers along with 2 Guest Speakers, Mr. Paolo Vergano of ARISE Plus and Mr. Chris Humphrey of EU-ASEAN Business Council.

The meeting comprised with discussion on the summary record of the previous meeting, ASEAN-BAC Vietnam Chairmanship, ASEAN E-Platform, Recabliration of Legacy Projects, Update on Working Groups and Strategic Agenda for ASEAN Leaders Engagement.

Video Conference – 84th ASEAN-BAC Meeting on 9th April 2020

ASEAN-BAC Vietnam Chairmanship:

Mr. Vu Anh Duc of ASEAN-BAC Vietnam Secretariat presented the updated calendar to the Council and explained that the ASEAN Summit will be postponed until the end of June due to COVID-19 pandemic. The ASEAN-BAC Interface with the ASEAN Finance Ministers and the ASEAN-BAC Interface with the Leaders will also be postponed until further notice from the Government. Mr. Suryo Nugroho of ASEAN Secretariat informed the Council that ASEAN had established the Working Group on Public Health Emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in late March, which has developed the collective responses on the pandemic.

ASEAN E-PLATFORM: Consultation with Private Sector:

Mr. Paolo Vergano of the ARISE Plus project briefed the Council on the e-Platform, which enables communications between the private and public sector with regard to issues from the Matrix of Recommendations compiled together between ASEAN-BAC and the Joint Business Councils (JBCs).

Mr. Paolo Vergano introduced the e-Platform for ASEAN Consultations with Private Sector that has also been approved by the ASEAN Trade Facilitation Joint Consultative Committee (ATF-JCC). The system is internet-based and currently under a pilot phase for the next 2-3 months. It was created to enable easier communications by the private sectors with ASEAN actors. The platform is not for public and exclusive for registered ASEAN actors.

Recabliration of Legacy Projects of each ASEAN country that was being updated and raised in the meeting:

1. Vietnam – Digital Startups Towards ASEAN Resilience and Sustainability
(Digital STARS)
2. Thailand – ASEAN Human Empowerment and Development (AHEAD)
– Digital Trade Connect
3. Singapore – Smart Growth Connect (SGConnectTM)
4. Philippines – ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN)
5. Malaysia – ASEAN Financial Inclusion Solutions (AFIS)

Tan Sri Dato Dr. Munir Abdul Majid, Chairman of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia, explained that the Financial Market is a protective industry in ASEAN and his team is working hard to get AFIS moving. He looks forward to the dialogue with the Finance Minister and Central Bank Governors, although he understood that the dialogue has been postponed. He also shared that Alibaba group is interested in cooperating with AFIS, as well as each AMS where they have presence.

Update on Working Groups:

1. JBC Trade Facilitation Working Group

Mr. Chris Humphrey of EU-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) updated on the slow progress of Trade Facilitation. Despite all the progress of ASEAN projects, the NTMs and NTBs are still increasing. Mr. Humphrey added that there has been a lot of issues around supply chain, especially in medicine. ASEAN-BAC and EU-ABC had submitted a joint letter together with AFBA/FIA to the G20 on Food Supply Chain Amidst COVID-19 to further stress the issue.

2. Financial Services Integration Working Group

Ms. Jukhee Hong, Deputy Executive Director of ASEAN-BAC presented the progress of the list of policy recommendations that was submitted to the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, which will be shared with the Council.

Strategic Agenda for ASEAN Leaders Engagement:

1. Impact of COVID-19

Mr. Gil Gonzales, Executive Director of ASEAN-BAC presented his analysis on the current situation based on the published COVID-19 related articles on its impact on the economy:

–    Health-care crisis
–    Economic paralysis
–    Social and political crisis

2. Evolving Strategic Issues

ED Gil Gonzales also presented that the main global effort would have to be a close cooperation between the United States and China.

3. Operational Response at National Levels: Best Practice

Following the discussion, the following comment/inputs were noted:

–    Dr. Robert Yap (Singapore)The Singapore government has issued several economic
stimulus packages to reduce the impact of the pandemic to the economy, namely
MSMEs, which are the ones that are highly impacted by the crisis. In term of post
pandemic, he proposed ASEAN-BAC to suggest ASEAN to take into consideration the
upskill and reskill the society to get them ready to compete in the new world post-

–   Tan Sri Munir Majid (Malaysia) : Tan Sri opined that ASEAN-BAC’s material on COVID-
19 should be more specific proposals that apply in the ASEAN context to find common
ground among the different approaches. He urged the importance of pushing
e-commerce and logistics as potential solutions to prevent deeper economic

–  Ms. Haslina Taib (Brunei) : Due to the sudden shock and healthcare demand, a lot of
new digital industries are emerging during the lockdown. Governments need to be
convinced that opening up certain industries is possible, and the private sector is needed
to drive the movement. 

–  Mr. Joey Concepcion (Philippines) : Sectors like Tourism and Aviation have been
severely impacted – smooth transition is the key. He proposed a more intimate
discussion among the ASEAN-BAC Members sharing each country’s best practices and
to learn from one another. 

ASEAN Prize 2020

Vietnam | November 2020

Dr. Jemilah Mahmood of Malaysia, ASEAN Prize Recipient 2019.

ASEAN Prize is a regional premier award to recognize the inspiring achievements of ASEAN citizens or ASEAN based organizations with significant contribution toward ASEAN community-building efforts. Founded in 2018, it is anchored upon the commitment of ASEAN Secretariat and ASEAN Member States who share mutual aspiration to acknowledge ASEAN citizens’ and institutions’ exemplary contribution in fostering ASEAN identity, promoting ASEAN spirit and upholding the ASEAN way.

The Prize recognises inspiring achievements and the following focused areas, taking into account the theme of ASEAN, as designated by the ASEAN Chair in that particular year:

– Outstanding collaboration between ASEAN Member States (AMS);
– Outstanding collaboration between ASEAN and the world;
– Outstanding people-to-people engagement among AMS;
– Outstanding economic integration and promotion of standards between or among AMS;
– Other outstanding contributions to ASEAN Community Building

If you would like to nominate companies/individuals who carries the criteria above, you may submit the nomination here before 13th July 2020:

For more info, you may contact The ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta here:

Community Relations Division:
General Inquiries: (+6221)7262991, 7243372 |

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