What to Expect of ASEAN in 2020
by Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Munir Abdul Majid, Chairman of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia
Vietnam has launched its chairmanship of ASEAN in 2020 based on the theme “cohesive and responsive”. These kinds of themes have become par for the course. The test is whether there is actually action against challenges that confront ASEAN and whether ASEAN is pro-active against disturbing global trends.
In Hanoi on January 7, on launching its chairmanship, the Vietnamese Prime Minister offered stirring words about thinking, acting and sharing community values, and about there being no more enduring quality than unity of the hearts.
Hardened businessmen would want more than that. At the ASEAN Business Advisory Council meeting in Hanoi on January 8, a specific Vietnam legacy project to promote ASEAN digital stars was pronounced. Good objective, the sixth in the series of specific legacy projects that I had started when Malaysia was chair of ASEAN in 2015.
The one we are driving – AFIS (ASEAN Financial Inclusion Solutions) – will be promoted further this year when we meet the finance ministers and central bank governors in March. It took ASEAN-BAC four years just to get to have a dialogue with them.
We are looking at promoting digital products for use by consumers, savers and investors across ASEAN borders, not an easy task given how financial market sovereignty is most stubbornly defended.
But the power of technology will win in the end. Not just in the financial field but also in other areas such as healthcare, smart cities, logistics and trade facilitation.
But barriers to trade are increasing. As tariffs come down, non-tariff barriers and measures (NTBs/NTMs) are going up. In 2015, when the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) was declared there were less than 6000. Now they have shot up to about 10,000.
Vietnam must show true leadership in 2020 to get a handle on this before it makes an utter nonsense of the AEC. At a symposium on Intra- ASEAN trade and investment in Hanoi on January 9, a proposal was put forward that a specific body be set up to take on the issue of NTBs/NTMs and not leave it the ATF/JCC (ASEAN Trade Facilitation Joint Consultative Committee) officials level.
This is something that Vietnam should push to be taken up by ASEAN.
The biggest challenge in Vietnam’s chairmanship year however is to get ASEAN to act together against disturbing global trends: dissembling of the free trade regime and a rules-based economic order, major powers acting with impunity in matters affecting international peace and security, such as America in the Middle East and China in the South China Sea.
ASEAN must stand up and be counted. Unity of the hearts is one thing, but proving commitment to world order in trade or security as well as voicing desire for it quite another. ASEAN must come out and be an exemplar even if it cannot determine how the big powers would act.
In 2020 therefore Vietnam should provide leadership to show ASEAN commitment in practice to free trade and a rules-based order, and to voice a single ASEAN position for world economic peace in forums such as APEC and the G-20, where ASEAN is well-represented but has not got its act together.
– Tan Sri Munir Majid, Chairman of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia
ASEAN Health Summit & Exhibition 2019
November 20th – 21st | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Healthcare Working Group of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia supported by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Ministry of Health (MoH), CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI) and 10 other ASEAN Joint Business Councils (JBCs), held the inagural ASEAN Health Summit & Exhibition 2019 with the theme “SmartHealth – Embracing Digital Healthcare” on 20th-21st November 2019 at MITI Tower.
The summit was officiated by YB Dr. Lee Boon Chye, Deputy Minister of Health Malaysia. Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid, Chairman of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia and Member of the Economic Action Council Malaysia delivered the welcoming remarks. In a show of support for the summit, Khun Arin Jira, 2019 Chair of ASEAN-BAC presented the appreciation remarks.
The booth exhibition was participated by 4 major sponsors (SANOFI, SAP, ECRI Institute and Pulse), 15 other sponsors/companies and 15 Health Startups. The ASEAN Health Summit 2019 Exhibition showcased cutting edge Digital Healthcare initiatives. Exhibitors were from ASEAN and global HealthTech industry, Universities, Innovators & Startups.
The exhibition reiterated the need for ASEAN to collaborate with both public and private sector Digital Healthcare stakeholders in bringing inclusive and affordable Healthcare to the masses. It was interesting to note initiatives on AI, IoT and Analytics by the exhibitors – emphasising the need for these technologies as enablers of better Healthcare delivery.
- Prof. David E. Bloom on the ASEAN Distinguished Health Lecture.
- 9 Thematic Sessions covered topics on Healthcare Financing, Digital Health Innovation, ASEAN Healthcare Data Governance, Digital Technology, and many others.
- 4 special keynote addressed by ECRI Institute, Leave a Nest Malaysia, CARI & Malaysia Healthy Ageing Society
- 2 Digital Healthcare Startups Showcases from Malaysia, Thailand, The Philippines, Indonesia and India
- Ministerial ASEAN Healthcare Dialogue with key industry stakeholders
November 2nd – 3rd | IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand
Held from 2nd – 3rd November 2019 on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit, the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) 2019 proved itself to be ASEAN’s premier annual business and investment event. Held at IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand, it provided a platform for more than 1000 participants from the regional business community to engage with ASEAN leaders, industry champions, entrepreneurs, key opinion leaders and decision makers.
This year the Summit was held under the theme of “Empowering ASEAN 4.0”. The theme of ABIS 2019 was to build on the Singapore Model and prepare for ASEAN member countries to take advantage of and be ready for the digital era.
Malaysia’s premier, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who delivered the Keynote Address, called on ASEAN to deepen economic integration through intra-regional trade. He said that ASEAN must make full use of its 650 million population and technological advancements as catalysts to speed up economic growth in the region.
“We must make full use of our strength. Our strength lies in our market. We have a market of 650 million people. As our economy grows, we will have a stronger voice. We are going to enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) and this will help us grow much faster than before,”
– YAB Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia
The Prime Minister also said that while there is so much talk on digitalisation and the new way of doing business to grow the economy much faster, people in ASEAN are still not fully availing themselves of the new method of doing business. He added that for that to happen, member countries need to educate their people on the benefits of the digital economy and how to respond to new technologies.
Citing an example, Tun said that China is using its communication technologies to buy and sell its products.
This event comprises of three main components, namely; keynote addresses by the Heads of State and/or Government, special address by global CEOs and business leaders, and panel discussions on various topics.
General Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Prime Minister of Thailand presided over the Opening Ceremony of the event followed by keynote addresses by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of Myanmar, H.E. Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of Russia, and Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Vietnam.
This year’s event was also honoured by the presence of His Royal Highness the Duke of York to deliver the keynote address. Furthermore, Dr. Surakiart Sathirathai, former Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Mr. Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia, Master Femi Owolade-Coombes, the 13-year-old young coding ambassador, global CEOs and business leaders will also speak and share their visions at the event.
Other Key Topic Highlights from the ASEAN Business & Investment Summit 2019:
1. Advancing ASEAN 4.0 in the Global Value Chain
2. Sustainable ASEAN 4.0: Circular Economy
3. Next generation MSME access to Finance
4. ASEAN Digital Transformation and Connectivity
5. ASEAN Human Empowerment and Development ASEAN Mentorship for
Entrepreneurs Network for MSMEs
November 2nd | IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand
ASEAN Business Advisory Council in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Commerce, and the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry, and Banking (JSCCIB) had organized ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) 2019 on 2nd November 2019. This year, ABA received an honour from Mr Anutin Charnvirakul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health of Thailand to present the award at the gala night.
ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) 2019 is an encouraging forum for ASEAN Business community aimed at showcasing outstanding and successful ASEAN companies contributing to ASEAN’s economic growth and prosperity, as well as recognizing ASEAN SMEs with the potential to be global players. ABA 2019 features 236 Nominations from 10 ASEAN countries, 91 winners from 11 categories and 500 participants attending gala night.
7 outstanding and promising Malaysian enterprises and individuals were recognised among other ASEAN businesses at the ASEAN Business Awards 2019, hosted in Bangkok, Thailand on 2nd November 2019. They were:
1. IX Telecom Sdn. Bhd – SME Excellence (Employment)
2. Sky Blue Media Sdn. Bhd – SME Excellence (Growth)
3. Excel Vite Sdn. Bhd – Agri Based (Mid Tier)
4. Innity Corporation Berhad – ICT (Mid Tier)
5. Dr. Aishah Solution Sdn Bhd – Women Entrepreneur
6. Suffy Dairy Group Sdn . Bhd – Most Promising Digitalized MSME
7. BookDoc – Startup and IDE (Innovation Driven Entrepreneur)
82nd ASEAN-BAC Meeting
November 1st | C-ASEAN, Bangkok, Thailand
The 82nd ASEAN-BAC Meeting was held on 1st November 2019 at C-ASEAN, Bangkok, Thailand. The 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 presentations on Thailand Chairmanship Updates, AMEN Legacy Project Updates and Vietnam Chairmanship 2020.
82nd 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.
Thailand Chairmanship Updates :
ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) & ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) 2019
Khun Arin Jira briefed on the preparation, programme and confirmation of leaders for ABIS & ABA 2019 on 2nd – 3rd November 2019.
The organizing of ABIS has returned to Thailand after a ten-year circle. The two-day conference will provide an ideal platform for the private sectors and stakeholders from ASEAN and beyond to identify, discuss, and develop proposed solutions to pressing issues that affect the region’s economic activity, investment attractiveness and business potential.
This year, ABA will be organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Commerce, and the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry, and Banking (JSCCIB). ABA 2019 features 236 Nominations from 10 ASEAN countries, 91 winners from 11 categories and 500 participants attending gala night.
Thailand Legacy Project
Khun Arin also presented on the next steps of Thailand’s long term project, ASEAN Human Empowerment And Development (AHEAD) and ASEAN Seamless Digital Trade Connectivity. ASEAN-BAC Thailand will complete the Digital Trade Connect’s focal points platform which will help ASEAN-BAC Thailand and the rest of the Councils to:
1. Complete on-going “Testing or Proof of Concept” project between Thailand and NTT Data, and other partners.
2. Initiate discussion with possible funders for the hiring of consultant. Consultant will put together the Digital Trade Connect Master plan and specify what private sector and public sector should do, among others.
3. Present to ASEAN Secretariat results of the Consultants work and indentify points of action for ASEAN.
AMEN Legacy Project Updates :
Ms. Merly Cruz, Executive Director of the ASEAN Mentorship Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN) presented on AMEN’s achievement throughout the year along with the future next steps for 2020. AMEN had its Pilot Run in Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines with a major success in leveraging on micro and small enterprises (MSEs) as agents of inclusive growth and prosperity by facilitating their access to the 3Ms (i.e., Mentorship, Money and Market).
AMEN will be continuing on the Phase II of its Pilot Run across other ASEAN countries.
Vietnam Chairmanship 2020 :
Dr. Doan Duy Khuong of Vietnam presented on the chairmanship calendar activities for 2020 and the ASEAN-BAC 2020 legacy project, “ASEAN Startup”, highlighting the urgency involved in restructuring to make use of advantages of the new technologies, 4IR and to respond faster to changes in national, regional and global markets. More details of the legacy project will be presented on the next ABAC Meeting in Hanoi Vietnam on 9th of January 2020.
Vietnam’s priorities in 2020 as ASEAN chair will aim to building a community for people, serving them with the increasing participation of ethnic minority groups, women, and children.
January – December 2019