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.

ASEAN-BAC Meeting in Manila

May 3rd | Manila, Philippines

ASEAN-BAC continued with its quarterly meeting in Manila which was chaired by Khun Arin Jira of Thailand and co-chaired by Dr. Robert Yap of Singapore and Dr. Doan Duy Khuong of Vietnam.

ASEAN-BAC Council Members and Committee in Manila, Philippines

The 80th ASEAN-BAC meeting was filled with new initiatives presentations on ASEAN Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation (COSTI), McKinsey’s Center for Government activities, ASEAN Young Entrepreneurs Council (AYEC) and ASEAN CSR Network.

COSTI – Given the various innovation and technology advancements, ASEAN-BAC Executive Director Gil Gonzales speculated on the possibility to develop toolkits ready for MSME’s on the numerous I&T materials. He would like to have Committee on Science Technology and Innovation (COSTI) be included in the equation on such a development, along with the Innovation Working Group. ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member Mr. Raja Singham informed that the U.S. has set up a network in Malaysia connecting universities and advised on setting up an ASEAN-wide platform that could connect universities across all ten countries and enable them to upload their research.

McKinsey & Company – Ms. Sharmeen Alam presented on McKinsey’s Center for Government activities in the ASEAN region where she elaborated on four potential areas for a possible collaboration: Expert contribution, Knowledge sharing, Capability building, and Research. Ms. Alam mentioned projects in three ASEAN countries, including Singapore that aims to upscale SMEs. Based on the McKinsey’s “Industry 4.0: Reinvigorating ASEAN Manufacturing for the Future”, Ms. Alam informed that the specific publication surveyed companies across ASEAN and concluded that 78% are aware of IR 4.0, while 14% are adopting to it.

ASEAN-BAC Meeting and Presentations in Manila

Ms. Jukhee Hong, ASEAN-BAC Deputy Executive Director, informed that ASEAN-BAC Malaysia is running a series of conferences for 2019 with the theme of Empowering ASEAN 4.0 with four verticals: FinTech, Smart Healthcare, Smart MSMEs, and Artificial Intelligence. She speculated that this is something that McKinsey and ASEAN-BAC Malaysia can cooperate in.

AYEC – ASEAN-BAC Executive Director Gil Gonzales stressed that AYEC which was born out of ASEAN-BAC a few years ago needs to maintain a close relationship with ASEAN-BAC. Throughout the years, there has been no chapter on Youth in ASEAN-BAC’s report to the Leaders due to AYEC’s lack of communication and participation with ASEAN-BAC. With AYEC’s lack of funding, Chairman of ASEAN-BAC Philippines, Mr. Joey Concepcion offered AYEC Philippines to latch on ASEAN-BAC Philippines’ programs to broaden their reach.

ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member Mr. Raja Singham formally offered assistance to AYEC on their activities, ranging from funding to logistics. To this point, ED Gonzales proposed having Mr. Raja to be ASEAN-BAC’s vocal point to AYEC given his natural inclination to education and youth.

ASEAN CSR Network – Mr. Thomas Thomas, CEO of the ASEAN CSR Network Ltd presented his CSN’s report on Responsible and Inclusive Business in ASEAN. The council supported this initiative as it takes care of governance, environment, social issues, etc. In relation to this, ED Gonzales expressed his thought on forming the national champions to push the issue.

The meeting continued with Thailand’s Chairmanship updates on ASEAN-BAC Interface with the Leaders, AHEAD Legacy Project and Seamless Regional Digital Trade Connectivity. As the ASEAN-BAC Interface with the Leaders discussed more on the framework that will be presented in June 2019, the AHEAD Legacy Project touched on the future of work in the ASEAN Member States. Khun Kobsak Duangdee presented his project of the Seamless Regional Digital Trade Connectivity and the topic discussed was ASEAN Member States’ MSME digital connectivity platforms, ASEAN-China Connectivity and development of ASEAN QR as one of the future legacy projects.

Other matters that were brought up in the meeting included the formation of an ASEAN-Hong Kong Business Council and the updates on ASEAN Business Awards and ASEAN Business & Investment Summit 2019.

ASEAN-BAC Meeting in Bangkok

June 20th | Sofitel Sukhumvit Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand

ASEAN-BAC Members, Staffers and Guest Presenters

Once again, ASEAN-BAC continued its quarterly meeting in Sofitel Sukhumvit Hotel Bangkok, Thailand gathering ASEAN-BAC Members, staffers and guest presenters. The 81th ASEAN-BAC Meeting was chaired by Khun Arin Jira of Thailand and co-chaired by Dr. Robert Yap of Singapore and Dr. Doan Duy Khuong of Vietnam.

The meeting was filled with discussion on the summary record of the previous ASEAN-BAC Meeting along with presentation on EREADI initiatives, Dialogue with U.S – ASEAN Business Council, ASEAN-BAC Singapore Activities, Thailand Chairmanship Activities, Trade Facilitation, AMEN and ASEAN-BAC Philippines Initiatives.

EREADI initiatives – ASEAN-BAC Executive Director, Gil Gonzales briefed the Council on the on-going research in collaboration with E-READI on non-tariff barriers and measures (NTB/NTM) focusing on 3 sectors: Agri-Food, Automotive and Healthcare. He emphasized the importance of the presence of all Council Members in the Launching event of the report which will be held on 22nd July 2019.

Dialogue with U.S – ASEAN Business Council – Ambassador Michael Michalak and Mr. Mario Masaya reported on the positive indications on Low Value Shipment Project (LVSP) and other initiatives under the JBC umbrella. The Council informed that the Digital Economy agenda will now be covered by the ASEAN Human Empowerment and Development (AHEAD) legacy project, which includes both the Human Capital elements and other issues on infrastructure and policy reforms. Other issues that have been raised and suggested would include to develop cyber security initiatives through JBC, US-based companies or start-ups to share their knowledge in the SMART Series and many others.

ASEAN-BAC Singapore Activities – The council presented the latest upcoming initiative, “Digitize ASEAN 2019” will be held on 24 September 2019 in Singapore. In line with the 2019 theme of Empowering ASEAN 4.0, the Chair voiced his support on Digitize ASEAN and ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN) to keep on moving forward. He also encouraged ASEAN-BAC Vietnam to do the same during their chairmanship in 2020.

Thailand Chairmanship Activities – The Chair presented on the framework of AHEAD and the urgency to set up an AHEAD Working Group. The ultimate outcome of AHEAD is going to be the “Guideline on the skilled labors / professional services development in response to 4IR”, which will be presented to ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM).

Following Thailand’s Chairmanship this year, ASEAN-BAC Malaysia is putting their effort to empower AHEAD together with CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI) on the subject matter. ASEAN-BAC Malaysia is also planning to include skilled labour as one of their main topics in the SMART Showcase Series 2019.

Upcoming major events would also include ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) on 2nd November 2019 and ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) on 2nd – 3rd November 2019.

Trade Facilitation – ASEAN-BAC Executive Director, Gil Gonzales emphasized the need for each country to push for the submission of cases in the ASSIST platform. The Council noted the need to extend more active support through appointments of Focal Points who can provide meaningful inputs to Trade Facilitation agenda matrix.

AMEN and ASEAN-BAC Philippines Initiatives – Ms. Merly Cruz presented the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN) project which had been funded by Japan-ASEAN Integration Funds (JAIF).

AMEN aims to put together an operative ecosystem both at national and regional levels of Public-Private Partnership that promotes the integration and acceleration of MSME’s access to Mentorship, Money and Markets or “the 3Ms” as the framework for MSME empowerment to scale up offline and online.

The Council recognized the need for active support from ASEAN-BAC Members to monitor the progress of the AMEN Project, most notably in the pilot countries: Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

EU-ASEAN Business Council & ASEAN Business Advisory Council Launch Report on Non-Tariff Barriers in ASEAN

June 22nd | Bangkok, Thailand

June 22nd | Bangkok, Thailand

In line with ASEAN’s 2019 theme of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability”, the EU-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) and ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC) launched a joint report “Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) in ASEAN and their elimination from a business perspective” which examines the prevalence of non-tariff barriers to trade in three key industrial sectors in ASEAN – Automotive, Agri-Food, and Healthcare.

The aim of the report is to highlight the need for faster action in removing NTBs in the region to help ASEAN achieve its objectives as set out in the two ASEAN Economic Community Blueprints, and the subsequent targets of reducing the cost of trade by 10% by 2020 and doubling intra-ASEAN trade by 2025 as agreed by the ASEAN Leaders in 2017.

The report sets out a number of recommendations to ASEAN, aimed at helping the region accelerate the removal of NTBs.

The Counsellor of the EU Delegation in Thailand, Mrs Isabelle De Stobbeleir, opened the event by stating that: “The European Union is a strong supporter of the ASEAN economic integration and the facilitation of regional trade. Through the Enhanced Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (EREADI), the EU strives to facilitate EU-ASEAN policy dialogues across all three ASEAN pillars. Thanks to the active engagement of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council and the EU-ASEAN Business Council, business communities from the EU and ASEAN are involved in a constructive exchange. Together, we join forces to promote the economic integration of ASEAN, strengthen business cooperation and bring forth the perspectives of the private sector.”

The report concludes that “absent a much clearer, more sustained and tighter focus on reducing the number and scope of existing NTMs and eliminating NTBs, ASEAN will not accomplish the objectives of the AEC and it will fail to meet the targets contained in the Blueprint 2025. Growth will not be as high as ASEAN Member States could have achieved and much of the promise embedded in the ASEAN exercise will have been lost.”

The report was prepared by the Asian Trade Centre, commissioned by the EU-ASEAN Business Council and by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, and funded by the EU’s Enhanced Regional EUASEAN Dialogue Instrument (EREADI).

34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok

June 21st – June 23rd | Bangkok, Thailand

From left, Dr Hooshmand Palany, Ms Rachel Eng, Mr Raja Singham, Khun Kobsak Duangdee, Khun Phairush Burapachaisri, Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid, Khun Arin Jira, Dr Robert Yap and Ms Jukhee Hong.
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Chairman, Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid was the lead discussant at the ASEAN Human Empowerment and Development (AHEAD) Symposium on 21st June 2019.

In his capacity as the Chairman of CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI), he outlined the research being undertaken to establish the skills supply needs and shortfalls, sector by sector, in the smaller ASEAN economies of Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei. This work will also be extended to all other ASEAN economies, in the second stage of the research, developed on work already done on the ASEAN-6 by Cisco and Oxford Economics.

It is the hope the template of the supply pipeline at the tertiary and vocational level could be used at a much more micro level for individual ASEAN countries as they face up to the skills needs of Industry 4.0.

Thailand Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-o-cha delivering his speech at the 34th ASEAN Summit

On the morning of the 22nd, Tan Sri Munir was also a panellist in a discussion on “Non-Tariff Barriers in ASEAN and their Elimination: A Business Perspective”, based on a report by the EU-ASEAN Business Council.

NTBs are rising, sector by sector. At this rate the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025 is never going to be achieved. The 10-year old ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) is being violated. There is utterly no enforcement. Even the private sector does not use available avenues of exerting some pressure on recalcitrant member states, such the name and shame ASSIST (ASEAN Solutions for Investment, Services and Trade) programme. ASEAN-BAC Malaysia has been asking companies making complaints at its various dialogues with industry to come forward with details of barriers to trade which have been unjustifiably imposed, so that they can be taken up and posted on the ASSIST portal – BUT TO NO AVAIL.

ASEAN Leaders’ Interface with ASEAN-BAC

June 22nd | Bangkok, Thailand

ASEAN Leaders’ Interface with ASEAN Business Advisory Council

Despite uncertainty over its duration, the annual ASEAN-BAC dialogue with the region’s leaders took place on 22 June 2019 on the occasion of the Asean Leaders Bangkok Summit. In the event the meeting stretched for over an hour.

Khun Arin Jira, Chair for 2019 spoke on behalf of ASEAN-BAC, which emphasized three points from the 10-point report made to the leaders. ASEAN-BAC obtained the leaders’ endorsement of the 2019 legacy project ASEAN Human Empowerment and Development (AHEAD) in support of Empowerment of Industry 4.0, which was mentioned in the Chairman’s Statement at the end of the ASEAN Summit 2019.

Two other issues raised – the worrying increase and incidence of non-tariff barriers and measures (NTBs and NTMs) and the need for world economic peace (a term coined for use by Tan Sri Munir, Chairman of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia) – obtained positive reception, but the amiability of the interface should not be mistaken for action down the line, particularly in respect of the NTBs and NTMs. The yearly conviviality continues to mask the real thing, which is an ASEAN trait.

ASEAN Leaders’ Interface with ASEAN Business Advisory Council

However with respect to “world economic peace” it was heartening to see ASEAN take an active stand at the Osaka G-20 Summit at the end of June which followed the Bangkok meeting. Indonesia is a full member of the G-20, ASEAN has had observer status since 2009, and Singapore represents the Global Governance Group of medium-sized and small states. With such representation, Tan Sri Munir argued that ASEAN-BAC must urge ASEAN leaders to be more active and not just attend G-20 summits. At the Osaka meeting they were indeed more active because of the risks and threats of the trade war between China and the US and President Trump’s violation of free trade practices. Even if ASEAN cannot make an impact on the geopolitical and military balance, it can be vocal on trade and the economic life of the world.

ASEAN Business Awards 2019

November 2nd | Muang Thong Thani, Bangkok

ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) 2019

About ASEAN Business Awards (ABA)

ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) recognises the most outstanding and successful ASEAN companies and individuals who have created a positive impact on the growth of the regional economy and helped elevate ASEAN’s economic potential. Designed to showcase some of the region’s best-in-class corporate standards, recipients of ABA are a benchmark for companies to emulate within ASEAN and beyond.

ABA provides opportunities for business to garner greater exposure to the industry due to its large diverse audience. The award exemplifies the achievements of the recipients and confers respect and enhanced credibility to the brand and organisation among your industry peers.
As ASEAN-BAC is mandated by ASEAN Heads of States and Government to be the economic private sector voice, ASEAN Business Awards have been attended by the Heads of State and Government and Ministers in the past years.

Categories and Awards of ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) 2019

About ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) 2019

Open to large corporations as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs), with categories in ASEAN’s 17 Priority Integration Sectors [Agri-Based, Aviation, Automotive, Electronics, Energy, Finance, Fisheries, Food & Beverage, Healthcare, ICT, Infrastructure, Logistics, Retail, Rubber-Based, Textiles, Tourism & Wood-Based], Young Entrepreneur, Start-up & IDE, Women Entrepreneur, Friend of ASEAN, Green Enterprise, Skills Development, Family Business, Sustainable Social Enterprises and Most Promising Digitalized MSME.

Venue of ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) 2019

The Awards ceremony will be held on 2nd November 2019 at the IMPACT Arena, Exhibition and Convention Centre, Bangkok, Thailand.
Participation for ABA is free-of-charge.

AirAsia, CIMB Group Holding, Kossan Rubber Industries, Singtel, Capital Land & DBS Bank are among some of the recipients of the ASEAN Business Awards over the last 12 years. This year, you and your company could be part of this prestigious list.

How to Apply?

ABA 2019 is open for submissions until 31 August 2019. Please visit the event website below for information on the Categories, Criteria, and nomination form:


For any inquiries on ABA 2019, please contact :
ASEAN-BAC Secretariat | 
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia | 

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